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Report: COPPA Inefficacious, New Solution Needed

PRIVACY LAW—U.S.

November 2, 2011

A recently released report suggests that parents are often complicit in helping their children lie about their age to gain access to online sites. "Why parents help their children lie to Facebook about age: Unintended consequences of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)" surveyed more than 1,000 parents and guardians of children aged 10 to 14 to find out if they knew their children were on Facebook. Most of the parents did not know why the site had a minimum age requirement and were unfamiliar with COPPA. Sites like Facebook often comply with COPPA by "dumping" accounts tied to underage users. The report calls "the efficacy of COPPA into serious question," while noting, "Legislative efforts to increase minimum age requirements or strengthen age verification will complicate and increase the cost to companies of compliance, further encouraging them to focus on denying access rather than providing privacy protection or cooperating with parents." 
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