Continuing the countdown to the effective date of the amended Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule, the Federal Trade Commission sent “educational letters” to more than 90 businesses that may be impacted by the coming changes.
The agency said that the letters do not reflect “an official evaluation” of the companies’ practices, but were instead intended to help recipients achieve compliance with the forthcoming Rule changes by the July 1 deadline. The FTC released the final amended version of the COPPA Rule in December 2012.
Letters were sent to domestic and foreign companies that appeared to collect personal information from children under age 13, such as images or sounds of children and their persistent identifiers.
The identity of the recipients was not revealed by the FTC.
The letters highlighted several Rule changes, including the requirement to post accurate privacy policies and to provide notice and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing any “personal information” from children. The agency also emphasized the broadened definition of “personal information,” which now includes photographs or videos with a child’s image, audio files that contain a child’s voice, and persistent identifiers, such as a mobile device identifier or IP address.
“Please take the time to review the upcoming changes to COPPA,” wrote Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director of the agency’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection. “We also strongly encourage you to review your apps, your policies, and your procedures for compliance.”
Mithal noted that the agency can seek injunctive relief or penalties of up to $16,000 per violation of the COPPA Rule. But she added that the FTC will “exercise its prosecutorial discretion” when enforcing the changes for companies – particularly small businesses – that make a “good faith” effort to comply with the Rule in the early months after it becomes effective.
To read the agency’s letters, click here.
Why it matters: Despite requests to push back the effective date, the FTC is moving ahead at full steam to implement the new COPPA Rule. In late April the agency released an FAQ guide for the forthcoming changes, and the letters provide yet another reminder to businesses to be ready for the July 1 deadline.