October 5, 2011

Educating and Empowering are Key to Online Safety

Adam Thierer

Senior Research Fellow

One problem with expanding the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is that it would require the collection of more personal information about kids and parents.  For age verification to be effective at the scale of the Internet, the collection of massive amounts of additional data is necessary.

Tools already exist that allow people who are deeply concerned with privacy to block ads and opt out of data collection, personal education and empowerment should trump government regulation.

Today’s parents continue to use common sense, smart monitoring and mentoring strategies, and household media rules first and then look to use parental control tools to help them supplement and better enforce those rules as needed.

There has never been a time in our nation’s history when parents have had more tools and methods at their disposal to help them decide what constitutes acceptable media content in their homes and in the lives of their children.  While many households will never take advantage of privacy-enhancing empowerment tools, that does not serve as proof of the need for government regulation.  What matters is that the tools exist for those who wish to use them.