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DMA Supports Children's Privacy Protection
September 15, 2011 — Responding to the release of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) final report on its review of the COPPA Rule, The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today reiterated its belief that the existing rule continues to play an important role in providing protections to children in the online environment and does not require many of the changes proposed by the FTC.
DMA supported and worked actively with Congress and the Commission in the years leading up to passage of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (“COPPA” or “Act”). COPPA was based in part on existing DMA guidelines that were already followed by our members and was intended to allay concerns about sexual predators and others who might seek to contact children online and put them in harm’s way, circumventing parents in their traditional role as gatekeepers. DMA supported the legislation on the belief that young children present a special case. Unlike adults, children may not fully understand the consequences of their actions.
Following passage of COPPA, DMA actively engaged in dialogue with the Commission on the development of the COPPA Rule. DMA subsequently partnered with the Commission by co-authoring a compliance manual entitled “How to Comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.” The guide presented the new requirements for protecting children’s privacy online and helped explain the Commission’s enforcement authority. The resource remains available today on the FTC’s website section dedicated to education and guidance materials on children’s privacy matters.
“To this day, the COPPA Rule continues to achieve the stated goals of COPPA,” said Linda Woolley, DMA’s executive vice president of Washington operations. “It has enabled children to experience the interactive capabilities of the Internet, which offers a range of learning and enrichment opportunities. At the same time, the regulation has provided children with protections and ensured a role for parents as gatekeepers to grant their consent to the collection of their children’s personal information where appropriate.”
In the report, the FTC recommends doing away with the existing “sliding scale” approach to parental consent, in which the required method of consent varies based on how the operator uses a child’s personal information. DMA believes that this approach has proven to be a sound means for protecting children online and supports retaining a system that strikes the right balance between providing parents with control and not inhibiting children’s beneficial Internet experiences.
The report also proposes expanding the definition of “personal information” to include unique device identifiers. DMA strongly believes that such a definition should include only information that in fact permits the direct communication with a specific, identifiable person — not a device that could be used by multiple people, including children under 13 or adults.
“DMA has been a longtime leader on children’s privacy and safety issues, and we share the FTC’s goal of ensuring that children under 13 are appropriately protected,” said Woolley. “We must all keep in mind that children are growing up in a digital world, and increasingly their success in this global economy will depend on their ability to navigate online platforms and emerging technologies. It would be a disservice to our children — and the US economy — if our regulations unnecessarily inhibited growth in new areas such as mobile technology. That is why we support carefully tailored protections for children that balance the goals of keeping children safe and preserving the interactivity of the Internet, and we will continue working with the FTC on this important issue.”
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About Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
The Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org) is the world’s largest global trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques. DMA advocates standards for responsible marketing, promotes relevance as the key to reaching consumers with desirable offers, and provides cutting-edge research, education, and networking opportunities to improve results throughout the end-to-end direct marketing process. Founded in 1917, DMA today represents companies from dozens of vertical industries in the US and 48 other nations, including half of the Fortune 100 companies.
In 2010, marketers — commercial and nonprofit — spent $153.3 billion on direct marketing, which accounted for 54.2 percent of all ad expenditures in the United States. Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures generated approximately $1.8 trillion in incremental sales. In 2010, direct marketing accounted for 8.3 percent of total US gross domestic product. Also, in 2010 there were 1.4 million direct marketing employees in the US. Their collective sales efforts directly supported 8.4 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.8 million US jobs.
The Power of Direct: Relevance. Responsibility. Results.
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