The invention of the internet and the growing use of it by children caused for implementation of new protection acts. Among these acts are the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which passed into law in 1998, and the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which became law in 2000. This paper will discuss the advances in information technology that resulted in new ethical issues necessitating the creation of these acts. Children’s Online Protection Act (COPPA), 1998
As the internet grew in popularity among the public, children began to use it more and more for everything from homework, to communicating, to searching for whatever information is out there (surfing). In most cases, websites required the users to put in their personal contact information and, in many cases, allow the website upload tracking cookies to the user’s computer. Almost anyone could then find, buy, and/or use that information for whatever reason. Children’s personal information could be accessed by pedophiles, bullies, or any other type of creep. According to L. Fair of the Federal Trade Commission, COPPA puts parents in control of what information children put online. Whether studying, shopping, surfing or chatting, today’s kids take advantage of everything the Internet has to offer. But when it comes to their personal information, who’s in the driver’s seat? Parents, according to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and regulations enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.
If you operate a website directed to children under 13 that collects personal information – or if you operate a website directed to a general audience and have actual knowledge you’re collecting personal information from kids – you must comply with COPPA’s two main requirements. First, you must prominently post your information security practices on your homepage and wherever you collect information from kids, including the kinds of information you collect; how you collect it (for example, directly from the child or passively, say, through cookies); how you use the information; whether you disclose it to third parties; and the procedures parents can follow to exercise their right to review their child’s personal information, refuse to allow its further collection or use, or have it deleted. Second, before collecting, using, or disclosing a child’s personal information, COPPA requires you to notify parents and get their verifiable consent (Fair, n.d.).
Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), 2000 As the use of internet by children increased so did concerns about the safety and wellbeing of those children. When searching the internet using an online browser, anyone could type in the word “sex” or “porn” and be bombarded with pictures, videos, and websites depicting inappropriate and often offensive content. With e-mail, chat rooms, and other types of e-communication becoming more popular among children, the personal safety of those children became a major concern. There was no way of knowing for sure whom the child was communicating with or what that person’s intentions were.
There have been cases of children meeting up with someone they met online and getting raped, kidnapped, and even killed. There was also the concern about what the children were doing online; there was no way of preventing children from hacking or doing other illegal activities on the internet. The government needed to do something to help ensure the safety of children using the internet at school and at the library. To address these concerns, Congress passed into federal law, the Children’s Internet Protection Act. According to the Federal Communications Commission:
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a federal law enacted by Congress to address concerns about access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers. CIPA imposes certain types of requirements on any school or library that receives funding for Internet access or internal connections from the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications technology more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. In early 2001, the FCC issued rules implementing CIPA.
Schools subject to CIPA are required to adopt and enforce a policy to monitor online activities of minors.
Schools and libraries subject to CIPA are required to adopt and implement an Internet safety policy addressing: (a) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet; (b) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications; (c) unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online; (d) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and (e) measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.
Schools and libraries are required to certify that they have their safety policies and technology in place before receiving E-rate funding (Federal Communications Commission, n.d.).
Conclusion With the popularity of the internet among minors came concerns about the children’s safety, wellbeing, exposure, and behavior. To address those concerns the government enacted a federal law that requires websites to get permission from parents before taking personal information from a child under 13 years old. Another law was implemented that protects and monitors the children using the internet at school and at the library by requiring schools and libraries to block access to inappropriate material. Under this law, schools and libraries are also required to implement a policy that addresses the safety and security of children using any form of direct online communication, addresses the illegal use of the internet by children, and addresses the safety of the children’s personal information.
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