The Acts on Children’s Protection Online

Subject: Entertainment & Media
Pages: 2
Words: 561
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Master

There are two significant laws that tend to protect children. The first of them is the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) of 2000, which “requires US schools and public libraries that are recipients of federal government Internet E-rate funding to install a “technology protection measure” to protect children from internet resources that may be harmful (Harris, 2019, p. 1). The second related law is Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998, which “regulates how mobile apps, games, and websites are allowed to collect and process personal information from children under the age of 13” (as cited in Reyes et al., 2018, p. 63).

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Although these acts appear to have the same purposes and should have similar intentions, key terms definitions, and problems addressed, there seem to be both distinctions and similarities within the acts.

The primary similarity between the acts under discussion is their purposes. Both laws tend to control the content available online, so children cannot access certain parts of that content, for instance, ones involving pornography or obscene vocabulary. On the contrary, there is a significant distinction regarding the laws’ “fields of influence” as CIPA establishes specific regulations for US schools and public libraries, meaning that these organizations are to manage internet usage on their own using particular technologies, whereas COPPA applies regulations for the world wide web overall, regulating online sites directly. In other words, these acts apply to the same field and have the same purpose, yet different organizations are to attend them, namely schools and public libraries in case of CIPA and the creators of websites, games, and mobile apps in case of COPPA.

However, some organizations might be subject to both laws due to the specificity of their activities, meaning that they have to attend to both laws and take the corresponding measures. For instance, a school that receives Internet E-rating funding from the federal government and has its own website can exemplify that type of organization. Such a school would have to address all the rules established by CIPA, meaning that it would have to take particular measures of technological protection so the children in that school could not see any harmful content online. At the same time, such a school would have to manage its website according to the rules of COPPA, considering specific rules and regulations regarding collecting and processing children’s personal information.

The laws under discussion seem to be issued as they define “child” differently. CIPA appears to protect school children, whereas COPPA only mentions children under the age of 13, as mentioned before. The policy of COPPA is confusing as it is not clear why its rules are limited by the specific age, which is not even the age of adulthood. According to the rules of COPPA, it appears that websites, mobile apps, and games are allowed to collect and process a 15-year-old child’s personal information following the standard regulations, which seems irrational.

As I understand, CIPA and COPPA are significant laws created to protect children online and manage their use of the internet to avoid various dangerous consequences. Therefore, these acts are necessary and valuable for society, and their positive impact is undoubted. However, the fact that these laws have different definitions of a “child” is confusing, and it is unclear why the rules of COPPA do not apply to children between the ages of 13 and adulthood.


Harris, F. J. (2019). CIPA/Internet filtering. The International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy, 1-11. Web.

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Reyes, I., Wijesekera, P., Reardon, J., Elazari Bar On, A., Razaghpanah, A., Vallina-Rodriguez, N., & Egelman, S. (2018). “Won’t somebody think of the children?”: Examining COPPA compliance at scale. In The 18th Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, (3), 63-83.