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FTC Offers Easier Compliance for Child Privacy Regs

23 Jul, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is making it easier for app developers to get parental approval for data collection, the Daily Online Examiner reports.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits app developers and website operators from knowingly collecting personal information – which now includes information like device identifiers and IP addresses – from children under the age of 13, without their parents’ consent.

In the past, businesses could ask for a credit card and then assess a small charge (which could later be refunded). But now the FTC says companies don’t necessarily need to actually engage in a monetary transaction to verify identity via a credit card. Instead, they could collect the financial information and pair it with other reliable data.

The FTC advises, “For example, you could supplement the request for credit card information with special questions to which only parents would know the answer and find supplemental ways to contact the parent.”

The FTC also said developers can use app stores like Apple’s or Amazon’s to get parental consent – if the app stores ensure children aren’t impersonating their parents.

The FTC adds, “The mere entry of an app store account number or password, without other indicia of reliability (e.g., knowledge-based authentication questions or verification of government identification), does not provide sufficient assurance that the person entering the account or password information is the parent, and not the child.”

Despite the restrictions, app developers approve of he FTC’s move. Morgan Reed, executive director of the developers’ group ACT|The App Association said in a statement, “Today’s action by the FTC gives platforms and app makers more guidance in areas where confusion has persisted. We expect innovation and investment in children’s education apps to grow markedly.”

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