Children's Privacy Ruling Goes Into Effect in 2000

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The Federal Trade Commission issued its final ruling this week outlining all compliance details for businesses on implementation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, passed last year by Congress.

"This final step achieves one of the commission's top goals - protecting children's privacy online," said FTC chairman Robert Pitofsky.

COPPA, which takes effect April 21, will require firms with Web sites aimed at children to obtain permission from parents before collecting, using or disclosing personal information on users under age 13. The act was first signed into law in October 1998 following a 12-month period in which the FTC sought comments from the public.

A key provision in the ruling requires firms to obtain digital signatures and faxed permission forms to verify parental consent for minors' use of certain Web sites and before giving information about minors to third parties. Data used internally only will require parental telephone or e-mail notification.

Human rights and children's protection groups applauded the ruling. Kathryn Montgomery, executive director of the Center for Media Education, said the FTC had developed "very flexible and effective rules."

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