The Federal Trade Commission is getting quite an earful over the pending July 1 implementation date for the updates to the children's online privacy laws. On Monday, a request for a six-month delay made recently by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Applications Developers Alliance turned into a war of letters, one from 19 privacy groups opposing any delay, and the other from 19 organizations advocating the delay.
In a six-page letter to FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the Center for Digital Democracy, Common Sense Media, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Privacy Information Center and 15 other privacy groups warned that any delay is "unwarranted," would harm children and "undermine the goals of both Congress and the FTC."
Updates to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act are scheduled to go into effect July 1, but members of the IAB, ADA, and 19 other groups in their letter argued they are still struggling with understanding how to execute the rules. Many are waiting for the FTC to release guidance in the form of FAQs before the end of the month, leaving little time to make changes.
"In practice, product development cycles and strategic planning can last for extended periods of time, over the course of years in many cases," wrote the IAB-led group, which includes the Direct Marketing Association, the Association of National Advertisers, the Online Publishers Association, and 16 other organizations. "For products already in the marketplace, determining how to retool and update software, and then pushing those software updates to market is a time consuming process. Making large-scale changes to products already in development presents an enormous challenge to the business community, especiall in light of the many questions about implementation that remain regarding the Coppa rule."
Privacy groups argue that the request for delay is nothing but a red herring to put off rules the IAB and ADA didn't want in the first place.
"Neither IAB nor the Alliance has presented any compelling reason for giving the industry more time to comply with the law. While IAB claims that implementing the updated rules is 'proving to be challenging' for many of its members, it provides no specific reasons or examples," the privacy groups wrote. "Similarly, both IAB and the Alliance refer to 'engineering questions,' but fail to identify what these are or what efforts have been undertaken to address them."
As for the long-awaited FAQs from the FTC, the privacy groups point out the FTC has "provided industry guidance in other ways."
The FTC declined comment.