Facebook Does Not “Like” The New Child Online Privacy Protection Act

In a 20 page letter sent to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last week, the social networking giant, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) raised objections to the proposed revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA, stating that it will breach the teens’ right to freedom of expression.

Facebook Does Not "Like" The New Child Online Privacy Protection Act

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) argues that child privacy laws should not apply to a Web site’s ability to incorporate a “Like” button, because that would inhibit free expression. The letter sent to the commission said “This social functionality, widely used by educational sites and apps, is dependent on plugins and could be threatened by a COPPA Rule that renders plugin providers responsible for the actions and motives of third parties and vice versa. Part of the value of many educational sites and services is that they are offered for little or no cost, which means that they often will not have the resources to meet burdensome compliance obligations. Requiring these sites or services and plugin providers to monitor each others’ information practices could result in the eradication of integrated plugins and the powerful features they facilitate”.

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The social network objects that a ‘Like’ button on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) conveys free speech, and eliminating the access of the feature to teens’ would be a violation of their constitutional rights”. A government regulation that restricts teens’ ability to engage in protected speech — as the proposed COPPA Rule would do — raises issues under the First Amendment,” the company said.

The revised guidelines from COPPA mandates Web sites to obtain verifiable parental consent, before collecting personal information from children younger than 13. Though, Facebook rules prohibit teen-agers younger than 13 from using the network, it’s widely known that millions of young children have Facebook accounts. The commission is not only targeting Web sites, but other online services also, like mobile apps, network-connected games, text messages, and other services that use cookies to track users’ travels across the Web.

Facebook’s Inc (NASDAQ:FB) omnipresent “Like” button is integrated with over 9 million different Web sites; with the help of which, it is able to find out each time someone goes on a page with a “Like” button, even if they do not click on it. Facebook argues that it restricts children under 13 years from using the network, but it cannot always control when someone under 13 visits a Web site that contains a Facebook “like” button.