• On December 19, 2012, the FTC announced that it had adopted amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule to strengthen kids’ privacy protections and give parents greater control over the personal information that websites and online services may collect from children under 13. Among the changes to the COPPA Rule, the FTC expanded the list of personal information that cannot be collected by websites without parental notice and consent, including geolocation information, photographs, and videos. The amendments also extend the COPPA Rule to cover persistent identifiers that can recognize users over time and across different websites or online services, such as IP addresses and mobile device IDs. Perhaps the most controversial change, however, is that the revised COPPA Rule closes a loophole that allowed apps and websites that are directed toward children to permit third parties to collect personal information from children through plug-ins without parental notice and consent. Many in the industry are concerned that this new rule could be interpreted to include third-party plug-ins such as Facebook’s “like” and Google’s “+1” buttons. More information regarding the new COPPA Rules is available here.
  • On December 14, 2012, the FTC issued orders to nine data brokerage companies requiring them to file Special Reports providing the FTC with information on how they collect and use consumer data. The Special Reports will contain the following: (i) the nature and sources of the data collected; (ii) how the data is used, maintained and disseminated; and (iii) the extent to which consumers are allowed to access and correct their information or to opt out of having their personal information sold. The FTC will use the Reports to prepare a study and set forth recommendations “on whether, and how, the data broker industry could improve its privacy practices.” More information is available here.
  • As part of its effort to thwart robocalls, the FTC has announced that it is launching the “FTC Robocall Challenge” – a contest that will award a $50,000 cash prize for the best technical solution for blocking illegal robocalls. The FTC believes the challenge will allow it to “tap into the genius and technical expertise among the public” in order to develop a successful solution to the illegal robocall problem. The award will go to the person, team, or small company (with fewer than 10 employees) that develops the best robocall-blocking technology. Entries will be judged by the following criteria: (1) it must work; (2) be easy to use; and (3) be easy to implement and operate. The FTC Robocall Challenge is free and open to the public. Entries will be accepted until January 17, 2013. More information regarding the FTC Robocall Challenge is available here.