The Federal Trade Commission has unanimously turned down a request by industry groups to push back the start date of new children's privacy regulations.
“Petitioners have not raised any concrete facts to demonstrate that a delay is necessary,” the FTC said today in a five-page letter to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Application Developers Alliance and other groups. The 4-0 decision means that the new rules will take effect on July 1.
The IAB and other groups recently asked the FTC to delay the new rules until early next year. Among other reasons, groups said the new regulations were so complicated that companies would need more time to figure out how to comply.
The new regulations, announced late last year, ban the use of behavioral targeting techniques on sites and apps directed to children under 13. The Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act prohibits Web site operators from knowingly collecting personal data from young children without their parents' consent, but leaves it to the FTC to define terms like “personal information" and "web site operator.”
The agency's new rules, announced late last year, define “personal information” as data used by ad networks to create behavioral profiles -- including persistent cookies and mobile device identifiers. The new definition also includes IP addresses, geolocation data and photos of children. Data collected solely for site analysis, frequency capping or contextual advertising is not considered personal information.
Today, the FTC said that companies have had long enough to revise their apps or Web sites to bring them into compliance. But the agency also indicated that it isn't in any hurry to target small players. “As with all of our enforcement activities, the Commission will exercise prosecutorial discretion in enforcing the rule, particularly with respect to small businesses that have attempted to comply with the rule in good faith in the early months after the rule becomes effective,” the FTC said in its letter.
Consumer advocate Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, called today's move a “huge victory for privacy.”
“The FTC sent a very strong signal today to the U.S. online marketing industry that they need to be prepared to start better protecting children now,” he said. Chester added that his organization is hiring a full-time legal specialist to focus on the new children's privacy rules and make sure that they are enforced.