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Government updates online child-privacy rules

– New online child privacy rules will keep anonymous advertisers and marketers from siphoning personal information about preteens but won’t restrain innovation among technology companies and businesses that rely on the Internet to reach consumers, government officials said Wednesday.

But those assurances failed to win over software developers who said the cost of complying with the new regulations and the risk of violating them will cause many responsible businesses to abandon the children’s marketplace.

Information about children that cannot be collected unless a parent first gives permission now includes the location data that a cellphone generates, as well as photos, videos and audio files containing a human image or voice, according to the rules announced Wednesday. Data known as “persistent identifiers” that allow a person to be tracked over time and across various websites are also considered personal data and covered by the rules.

The rules offer several new methods for verifying a parent’s consent, including electronically scanned consent forms, video conferencing and email.

The rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission ensure that a 14-year-old law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, keeps pace with evolving technology, including cellphones, tablets, software apps, and social networking sites, the agency’s chairman, Jon Leibowitz, said at a news conference.

The agency tried to achieve a balance between protecting kids and ensuring that a key sector of the U.S. economy keeps growing, Leibowitz said.

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