Friday, March 09, 2007

New Developments on the US Regulatory Front

As reported by the KidAdLaw.com website, two important reports pertaining to kids and media in the US were recently presented to Congress. The first consists of a five-year progress report on COPPA by the FTC, which maintains that (as reported by KidAdLaw) the COPPA rules:

[H]ave been effective in protecting the privacy and security of young children online without unduly burdening Web site operators. The report does not recommend any changes to COPPA or to the Commission’s Rule, but does note that, because widespread age verification technology is not available, age falsification remains a risk on general audience Web sites not intended for children’s use. The report also identifies social networking sites and mobile Internet access as new andemerging issues in children’s online privacy.

I love how the FTC both blames kids for existing inadequacies in the system ("age falsification"), all the while claiming that although social networking and wireless access present "new and emerging issues" the current rules somehow don't need updating. The FTC also seems kind of impressed that children's websites have come up with such innovative ways of making money off kids without collecting much "personally identifiable" data. *Sigh* They are the "Trade" commission after all, but this just goes to show that privacy and commerce aren't really issues that should fall under the authority of the same governing body.

The second report was presented by the FCC, who are continuing their campaign to tighten regulation on violent television content, in particular during family and child-heavy viewing times. They're now claiming that violent content can be regulated in a similar manner as sexual content (the old "violence as porn" argument - I'm having a bit of deja vu here), which would somehow mean it could occur without infringing upon First Amendment rights. I don't really understand how that works, but it keeps coming up in the video game cases as well so there must be SOME sort of logic behind it (though it would seem that in the states censorship is always censorship...only unless it involves sex). According to KidAdLaw:
The FCC report states that Congress could pass a law that would authorize the agency to regulate violent content during the hours that children watch TV, just as sexual content and profanity are restricted. The report concludes that there is “strong evidence” that violent media can impact children’s behavior, Chairman Martin told the AP.

The site also has a number of new and interesting articles (and links) discussing the massive impact of the UK's recent media ban on advertising unhealthy foods to kids. Check out some of the coverage here and here. I'm really liking this new resource, especially since you can sign up for email updates which they send every couple of weeks or so. It's certainly maintaining its industry focus, but it's nonetheless very thorough in keeping up-to-date on developments as well as public + press reactions to new laws and policies.

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