Tuesday, December 18, 2012

COPPA Rule Changes - what do they mean for you, your family and your network?

Thirteen years ago one of the most powerful children's privacy laws in the world took effect. It required commercial networks, providers and websites (including game networks) to give parents notice of and get permission before collecting information from their preteens or enabling preteens to communicate and share personal information with others.

The law has been studied and used as a model for many kids privacy regulatory schemes around the world.

Several of us were actively involved in its drafting and clarification. I wrote most of the privacy policies for children's networks, websites and game providers in April 2000 when it became effective. Visit aftab.com for the history of COPPA and my thoughts on what works and what doesn't.

Since then, I have continued to advise the industry leaders in COPPA compliance. We have designed several digital tools and helped set industry best practice standards for kids privacy, safety and security. It's not easy, but worth the effort. And failure to comply has resulted in fines exceeding $1 million for brand names, such as Sony.

At noon the newly revised COPPA Rules will be announced, after 18 months of comments, revisions and unput from the industry, child advocates and parents. We can only guess (although many of us have educated guesses :-)) what changes will be reflected in the new rule.

But whatever the case, the networks, websites, services, digital tool providers, mobile operators and entertainment providers will have to work changes in their current practices to comply with these changes.

As parents, read the privacy policies that so many ignore. It's worth it to understand what providers are doing to protect your child's privacy.

As kids, don't lie about your age to pretend to be 13 or older. It's not worth the risk. There are so many great sites and services for preteens. And, your parents can give permission for you to use sites that allow preteens with parents' consent.

It you are a provider, network or operator to which the new COPPA Rule applies, get experienced counsel who can walk you through the kids privacy landmines.

Visit WiredTrust.com if you need help. Check out the SociallySafe.com kids seal on best practices.


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