Business Surveillance vs. COPPA Children’s Online Privacy Protection New Rules

EDUCATION selling K-12 student INFORMATION and their rights to privacy

Revised Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule Goes Into Effect 7/1/13

FTC Continues Safe Harbor Programs, Expands Business and Parental Education Efforts

The Federal Trade Commission’s revised Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule took effect today, giving parents greater control over the online collection of their children’s personal information. The revised COPPA rule culminates more than two years of review by the agency to modernize the rule.

The revised COPPA rule addresses changes in the way children use and access the Internet, including the increased use of mobile devices and social networking. The modified rule, approved by the Commission in December 2012, widens the definition of children’s personal information to include persistent identifiers such as cookies that track a child’s activity online, as well as geolocation information, photos, videos, and audio recordings.

The COPPA rule was mandated when Congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. It requires that operators of websites or online services that are either directed to children under 13 or have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information from children under 13 give notice to parents and get their verifiable consent before collecting, using, or disclosing such personal information, and keep secure the information they collect from children.

LOOPHOLE

To coincide with the amended COPPA rule taking effect, the FTC has also continued five “safe harbor” programs, whose guidelines now reflect the modified rule. Under COPPA, safe harbor status allows certain organizations to create comprehensive self-compliance programs for their members. Companies that participate in a COPPA safe harbor program are generally subject to the review and disciplinary procedures provided in the safe harbor’s guidelines in lieu of formal FTC investigation and law enforcement.

COPPA safe harbor programs are offered by

Aristotle International, Inc.,
Aristotle, Inc. provides political technology and solutions to grassroots organizations, public affairs councils (PACs), and political campaigns in the United States and abroad. The company offers campaign solutions, including campaign fundraising, voter data, compliance reporting, and campaign management tools; and PAC evaluations, consulting, outsourcing, audits, and case studies. Its solutions for grassroots organizations include Aristotle 360 Grassroots, a software suite to help users to conduct targeted online and off-line advocacy campaigns; Action Center 2.0, which helps users to perform communications; Bills and Votes, which allows users to identify, target, and influence legislators…

the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus,
to promote responsible children’s advertising as part of a strategic alliance with the major advertising trade associations through the National Advertising Review Council (the AAAA, the AAF, the ANA and the CBBB).

ESRB Privacy Online, Entertainment Software Rating Board where you can buy approval.
317 Madison Avenue, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10017
ESRB’s privacy badge all about best practices, not anonymity
In other words, the system is in place to make sure the data provided to these companies by customers—including things like your real name, contact information, or date of birth—is treated safely and with respect. “But online privacy protection doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as anonymity. It’s about making sure that websites collecting personal information from users are doing so not only in accordance with federal regulations but also with best practices for protecting individuals’ personal information online,” Mizrachi explained.

TRUSTe,

and Privo, Inc.
Privacy Vaults Online, Inc., d/b/a PRIVO has created a proprietary technology and services platform that enables participating companies to initiate and manage responsible relationships with their online consumers through an identity and permission management platform. The platform, the PrivoLock™ system, allows consumers, or registrants, to assert and verify their identity, maintain control of their personally identifiable information (PII), edit its content, and extend this privacy protection to their children while providing companies with a legally compliant “opt–in” marketing database for communicating with their customers.

The FTC has also released two new pieces designed to help small businesses that operate child-directed websites, mobile applications and plug-ins ensure they are compliant with upcoming changes to the rule.

The first is a document, “The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule: A Six-Step Compliance Plan for Your Business, which is designed especially for small businesses and contains a step-by-step process for companies to determine if they are covered by COPPA, and what steps they are required to take to protect children’s privacy. The FTC also released a video aimed at businesses to help explain their obligations under the revised rule, including an explanation of the changes.

Finally, the FTC has updated a guide for parents, “Protecting Your Child’s Privacy Online,” that explains what COPPA is, how it works and what parents can do to help protect their children’s privacy online.

These new documents provide guidance from the FTC staff that supplements the rule and other COPPA–related material previously published by the FTC, including an updated set of frequently asked questions about the rule. FTC staff will periodically update the FAQs.

In addition to the guidelines and frequently asked questions, FTC staff maintain a “COPPA Hotline” email address, COPPAHotLine@ftc.gov, where industry members can send questions on how to ensure they are compliant with the rule. Comments on the FAQs or suggestions for new FAQs may also be submitted through the COPPA Hotline email address.   

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

STAFF CONTACT:
Kandi Parsons
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2369

Peder Magee
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3538

Kristin Cohen
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2276

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