The American Heart Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and Consumers Union are among a coalition of nearly 60 groups that are urging the Federal Trade Commission to issue new regulations banning marketers from sending behaviorally targeted ads to children.
"These rule changes are not only essential, but also urgent, addressing a variety of techniques that are swiftly becoming commonplace, including: 'cookies' and other 'persistent identifiers' for following a child online, mobile and geolocation tracking, facial recognition software, and behavioral advertising." the organizations say in a letter sent to the FTC on Thursday.
The groups contend that the FTC needs to update its rules implementing the children's Online Privacy Protection Act, in order to account for recent advances in technology.
COPPA broadly bans Web site operators from knowingly collecting personal information from children under 13 without parental consent, but empowers the FTC to define key terms, including Web site operators and personal information.
The FTC recently proposed broadening the definition of personal information to include unique identifiers that can track a user across more than one site, including certain types of cookies, device serial numbers, and in some cases, IP addresses. The agency also proposed that any third parties that collect data -- including companies that offer social plug-ins, ad networks and other service providers -- also should be covered by the restrictions.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau opposes the proposed changes. The IAB argues that tracking cookies and other "persistent identifiers" are anonymous and only identify particular devices, not users.
Current self-regulatory principles limit the use of online behavioral advertising techniques on children, but those principles aren't the same as legally binding regulations that would apply to all companies.