Consumers Union, the Center for Digital Democracy and other
groups have asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to adopt strong privacy and
child-protection safeguards if it decides to go ahead and open up the social
network to kids under 13.
The groups essentially want Facebook to create a safe play
area for kids, including assurances that "any space for preteens will be
safe, parent-supervised and parent-controlled, with no advertising and no
collection of children's personal information for marketing purposes."
By most accounts, including a Consumer Reports cited by the
letter-writers, millions of kids under 13 already use the site and they said
they were glad Facebook was trying to do something to address that problem -- by
making it parental-permission based access. But they don't want that to become
an opportunity to market the kids, including by collecting info.
"Enforcing age restrictions on the Internet is a difficult issue, especially when many reports have shown parents want their children to access online content and services," said Facebook in a statement. " We welcome today's recommendations by consumer, privacy, health and child groups as we continue our dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policymakers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment."
Also signing on to the letter were the Academy of Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry, Center for Media Justice, Center for Science in the
Public Interest, ChangeLab Solutions/Public Health Law & Policy, Children
Now, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Watchdog,
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, Public Citizen, and World Privacy