*This post originally appeared on Payments Journal
In the coming weeks, federal regulators from the Federal Trade Commission are expected to outline new rules which will make collecting information from children’s online activities much more difficult without parental consent. Mary Engle, the associate director of the advertising practices division at the Commission states, “Today, almost every child has a computer in his pocket and it’s that much harder for parents to monitor what their kids are doing online, who they are interacting with, and what information they are sharing.” She continues, “The concern is that a lot of this may be going on without anybody’s knowledge.”
The current federal rule, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, has become outdated due to new technological advances, say privacy advocate groups, despite the rule mandating the need for websites to obtain parental permission to collect sensitive personal information from children under 13. For example, under the existing rule, no regulation existed monitoring the use of webcams and online photography. However, regulators are expected to mandate that companies seeking children under 13 to submit photos of themselves online would require parental consent.
Generation Z children are the most computer and Internet literate generation in history, and with new technologies and applications continually produced that involve the exchange of personal information, privacy rules are vital. While no one is debating the importance of maintaining the safety of children, both online and offline, the new rules could potentially have a substantial effect on the payment industry, particularly for firms involved in the collection of information and social media websites.
The growing number of Generation Z online users means that the market represents a potential goldmine for online realtors and marketers. The new rules, however, will likely change the ability of firms to accurately target and market their goods and services for the teen and pre-teen markets online. While the added security in the new regulations will provide for children is important, it will slow the growth and development of payment-related technologies for this emerging demographic.
Tristan Hugo-Webb is an analyst with the Mercator Advisory Group covering the international market and U.S. debit card market. His responsibilities include covering new U.S. and international legislative regulations and analyzing their impact on the payment industry in the U.S. and around the world. Tristan is also a frequent contributor to Payments Journal, writing on a series of payments industry issues.
Tristan is a graduate of Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, with a BS in Diplomacy and International Relations and Minors in Economics and French. He has spent several years living abroad including stays in Italy, Germany and Niger.