The COPPA rule prevents children from having their personal information stored and distributed online as adults often consent. Verifiable parental consent is required if this information is to be collected – but the FTC has simply relaxed the rule just enough so that routine tasks such as searches can be done for children without risk to the operator.
The problem was that, under the current rules, all of a child's sound is considered to be "collected" – which is not a problem if it's in the background. Sesame Street application or something, where parents will have already consented to use. But what, at one point, a child says "call 911!" Or try turning off the music? Should Amazon or Apple wait to get parental consent before performing these tasks?
In an orientation document released today, the FTC responded "no" by removing simple interactions such as this one from the requirements of the COPPA Act.
The Commission recognizes the value of using voice to replace written words in carrying out searches and other functions on devices connected to the Internet. Verbal commands may be a necessity for some consumers, including children who have not yet learned to write or people with disabilities.
The rule remains the same, but the Commission will not take any action against the companies that collect the data, turn them into text for tasks that do not include personal information, and then delete them immediately.
This is probably a charge that escapes the legal teams of dozens of companies, where technically their basic functionality may have been illegal. As long as the data is processed correctly, it will not constitute a violation.
The FTC adds, however, that this is not a fair-to-all. The collection and deletion process must be well documented and approved (at least via the EULA). Businesses can not request personal data by voice (that is, ask for a child's name for a game or configuration) and they can not use this window of legality to make something other than converting it to data. text.
Featured Image: TechCrunch