Submission Number: 547597-00025
Received: June 17, 2010
Commenter: Don Schaefer
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: 2010 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act Rule Review
Attachments: No Attachments
There are several questions associated with this rule and most of the answers to them would be hearsay or personal opinion, except for the questions about how the operators of websites were affected by trying to comply with the rule. I am a parent, not a website operator.
My comment is more about the rule itself which broadly speaks to several of the questions indirectly. The very rule itself depends on the honesty of people, especially the kids. When a 12 year old is presented with a check box that says, “click here to confirm that you are at least 13 years old”, what do you think will happen? As soon as kids find out that not checking that box changes what they have access to, they will check the box to go on. Sure the operator did their part, but the rule is made useless with each single click of a curious child. It is the same thing as saying stay out of the cookie jar, but leaving it on the counter in plain sight.
Since using the internet cannot validate the age of the user, any rule based on an age is unenforceable, easily overridden, and only serves as having the appearance of “doing something” when in fact it does not do anything with surety and reliability.
In the end, while I believe the rule was made with good intentions, does not achieve its goal. Kids who are allowed to surf the internet unattended can get into all sorts of trouble that no “rule” will protect them from. This is an issue each family has to take responsibility for. The internet is not going away and people are adapting to it as it evolves. Most parents are not as ignorant about the internet as they were back in 2000 when the rule was first introduced.