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January 3rd, 2013
Get Ready for a New Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rules
Definitions. The definition of personal information previously included email address, physical address, and phone number. The FTC expanded this definition in the update to include photos, videos, images, voice, and geolocation information.
The FTC also expanded the definition of personal information to include any unique identifying marker used to track users within a website or across websites including any behavioral advertising markers. The update did note that these do not include markers for a website's internal operations, including contextual advertising, frequency capping, and legal compliance.
In the most controversial part of the expansion, FTC expanded the definition of parties covered by COPPA to include advertising networks and third-party plugins that collect children's personal information from kid directed websites and applications. However, the expanded coverage won't include platforms that merely make children's applications available.
FTC expanded the definition of parental consent mechanisms to include video conferencing, scanned signatures of parental consent forms, and charges on certain electronic payment mechanisms such as debit cards.
The consent mechanism known as "email-plus" remains a viable option for parental consent for internal use of a child's personal information. Email plus is usually an email to a parent that requires a parent to reply for consent, followed by an email or letter several days later. In an effort to create a flexible rule that updates with technology, there is also a 120 day notice and comment period where the FTC is encouraging businesses to create additional mechanisms to provide confirmed parental consent.
The COPPA update also contains a data security requirement: companies should not keep any children''s information longer than necessary. In addition, covered entities are also required to use reasonable security measures to prevent any data breach associated with a child''s information.
The updated COPPA rules also provide an audit mechanism for COPPA safe harbors to ensure they are offering the best advice to companies seeking their services for compliance. These safe harbors will be required to audit their member sites at least annually and report the aggregated results to the FTC.
In the final analysis, business operators should consult a knowledgeable attorney to comply with the updated regulation. Detailed questions regarding enforcement will be answered over time as we see how the FTC enforces the regulation. If you have questions about the new COPPA rules, or any other privacy-related matters, please contact Greg Boyd at (212) 826-5581 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or any other member of our Advertising, or Technology, Digital Media & Privacy Groups.
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