The Federal Trade Commission announced that it will review the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act rules five years early in light of the rate of technological change impacting children’s privacy. The FTC typically reviews its rules every 10 years, and it last reviewed COPPA in 2005. But instead of waiting another five years, the agency determined that technological advances required an accelerated review.

COPPA, which took effect in 2000, prohibits Web sites from collecting or disseminating personal data about children under 13 without their parents’ permission.

Deputy Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich testified before the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and told senators that the agency is currently seeking public comment on several issues.

Specifically, the FTC is seeking public comment on how the law should apply to new platforms, like mobile communications, interactive television, and interactive gaming, as well as the use of automated systems that filter out any personally identifiable information before posting in order to review children’s online submissions. The agency is also seeking comment on whether new technology exists to obtain verifiable parental consent that could be added to the regulations or whether the current methods should be removed. In addition, the FTC is considering expanding the definition of “personal information” to include persistent IP addresses, mobile geolocation data, or information collected in connection with behavioral advertising.

A public roundtable will be held June 2, 2010, and the 90-day comment period will end June 30, 2010.

To read the FTC’s statement to the Senate subcommittee, click here.

To read the text of the FTC’s request, or to submit a comment, click here.

Why it matters: The expansion of the definition of “personal information” could place additional burdens on advertisers who utilize commercial sites geared toward children. The FTC has expressed interest in enhancing the transparency of behavioral advertising, and companies should be aware of the potential expansion of COPPA regulations.