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Online Safety and Privacy Unit
On January 28, 2013, Data Privacy Day, Attorney General Gansler announced the formation of an Online Safety and Privacy Unit. This Unit monitors companies to ensure they are in compliance with state and federal consumer protection laws, including the Maryland Personal Information Protection Act and the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which, in most cases, restricts companies from collecting personal information of children under 13 years old. The Unit also examines weaknesses in online privacy policies and works alongside major industry stakeholders and privacy advocates to provide outreach and education to businesses and consumers to broaden awareness about privacy rights so they are more equipped to manage online privacy challenges. The Unit will pursue enforcement actions where appropriate to ensure consumers' privacy is protected.
Consumer Guide to Protecting Privacy Online
Children's Online Privacy Workgroup
The OAG Children's Online Privacy Workgroup was created by statute in spring 2013. The statute directs the Office of the Attorney General to "convene and direct a workgroup to examine issues relating to the protection of children's privacy while using the Internet and mobile applications." The issues to be examined included the nature and extent of data collected about children through online advertising, the current federal and state regulatory landscape for online data collection affecting children, and industry and consumer best practices. The Attorney General convened the Workgroup in June 2013, and a final report was issued on December 30, 2013. A copy of that report is available here: http://www.oag.state.md.us/reports/copw.pdf
Also, several nonprofit organizations offer educational tools designed to help consumers and their families navigate the Internet in ways that protect their privacy and safety. These include the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Common Sense Media, among others. Some links to their educational offerings are below:
Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372