Wednesday, December 19, 2012

COPPA 2.0 - Amended Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule

It's been 18 mos since we started reviewing COPPA to see what should be kept, and what should be abandoned. The world of children online has changed dramatically since COPPA was first adopted in October 1998. The FTC gave the industry 1-1/2 years to prepare and it first became effective in April 2000.

Even then, most companies failed to comply.

Over the years, many smaller (and embarassingly larger) industry members have complied by copying another site's privacy policy and claiming in big bold letters that they were compliant with COPPA.
They failed to realize that by doing so, they were making it worse when the stolen privacy policy didn't match their site's practices.

Now, the Internet as we knew it is not a desktop world anymore. Handhelds, mobile devices and technologies use different networks to connect everyone, especially kids. And none of us over the age of 15 know how to do what our kids do and what to do to keep them safe.

Some of us worried that COPPA 2.0 was taking on too much. Some advocates wanted the age raised to 16 (from 12 and under). Others wanted heavy regulations on advertisers marketing to kids, and many wanted nothing to change.

I filed two comments (one for each comment period) and assisted in drafting others for clients and companies I advise. I was worried that the knowledge standard would be changed somehow, bring an "implied" standard to the table in knowing the age of your users. I worried that plug-in providers would have a higher duty to inquire about the user demographics. I worried that in an attempt to keep our children safer and more private, we were turning off the technologies and keaving them in the dark.

I had no need to worry. With few exceptions, the new COPPA Rule tracked my wishlist and comments. It reflects how much the FTC listened to all stakeholders and how carefully they weighed the risks and benefits of a more exacting regime.

I am a fan of the current FTC Chairman. I have been since he was first selected as an FTC Commissioner. But even more, I am a fan of the people at the FTC who work tirelessly to be always available to industry and advocates alike.

We joke about the Call Phyliis and Mamie hotline (referring to Mamie Kresses and Phyllis Marcus, the COPPA mavins at the FTC), referring to their willingness to be there for questions and for ideas.

I wish all federal agencies worked as well, and cared so much.

So, for my clients which are waiting with baited breath for my guidance on COPPA 2.0, I will be in touch tomorrow. And for the rest, it's not so bad and with the right help, not so hard.


FTC Strengthens Kids’ Privacy, Gives Parents Greater Control Over Their Information By Amending Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule

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