Revised Children's Online Privacy Rule Effective Now10 Jul, 2013 By: Doug McPherson
WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) revised Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule took effect on July 1 after more than two years of edits and reviews.
The revised 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, which the commission approved 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.
FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said protecting children’s privacy is a “top priority” and that the updated rule helps put parents “in charge of their children’s personal information as it keeps pace with changing technologies.”
Congress passed COPPA in 1998 to require 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.
The FTC also released a document and video 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 document, “The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule: A Six-Step Compliance Plan for Your Business,” is for small businesses and explains how companies can determine if they are covered by COPPA, and what steps they need to take to protect children’s privacy. The FTC also released a video to help explain businesses’ obligations under the revised rule, including an explanation of the changes.
The FTC staff also maintains a “COPPA Hotline” E-mail 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 E-mail address.