Among the most vocal opponents of protecting children's privacy online in the mobile/location data tracking and targeting era is ACT (Association for Competitive Technology), which claims it is a "international grassroots advocacy and education organization representing more than 5,000 small and mid-size app developers and information technology firms." But who is really behind the`we represent the small gals/guys' facade? They are funded by "eBay, Microsoft, Oracle, Intel and VeriSign," among others, and have offices in Brussels and DC. ACT's real mission is to fight against regulations that its corporate members oppose. That's why they have the money to operate in both the US and EU--not exactly an operation that a group representing the "wee folk" can readily do.
ACT is engaged is a disinformation campaign against proposed safeguards for children who grow up using mobile phones and apps. Why ACT and its corporate backers are afraid of letting a parent give permission before information can be collected from their child--including their location--suggests that there is an agenda to target kids in even more aggressive ways. The power of mobile app marketing enables companies to track a child in a neighborhood, create a profile of their interests, connect to their friends, and target them with marketing--including junk food. ACT has issued disingenuous press releases with headlines like: "FTC Taxes Apps: Privacy Changes Result in Quarter Billion Dollar Cost to Education App Developers." ACT engages in shrill "the kids app education market will collapse" rhetoric--a typical political tactic for a corporate-funded advocacy group.
What ACT fails to tell the public--shame, shame--is that responsible mobile app developers working in the children's market understand that privacy is one of the deliverables with any sustainable business plan. That groups like ACT and the App Developers Alliance, let alone Google, Apple, mobile ad networks, the FTC, other groups--provide plenty of resources to help even small app developers ensure that privacy is respected-for kids and adults alike. But what ACT doesn't like about the proposed COPPA rules is that it begins placing power over the data collection process back to people--in this case parents.
So ACT. When you say you speak for small business--can you first tell how much you are getting from Big Business. But perhaps more importanty, why are you afraid of letting parents decide about how their kids information can be used--on mobile apps, phones, or the web at large.