On March 24, 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (“Commission”) announced that it was commencing a review of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA Rule”), which implements the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). The COPPA Rule applies to operators of commercial web sites and online services directed to children under age 13 that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children, and operators of general audience web sites that have actual knowledge that they are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under the age of 13. The COPPA Rule seeks to provide parents with tools to control how information about their children is collected online by requiring operators of covered sites to: (1) provide notice of information practices; (2) acquire verifiable parental consent (with limited exceptions) before collecting personal information from children; (3) give parents choice to limit the disclosure of personal information to third parties; (4) provide parents with access to their children’s personal information and the ability to delete such information; (5) provide parents with the ability to withdraw consent; and (6) maintain the confidentiality, security, and integrity of collected personal information.

At least once every ten years, the Commission conducts a review of its regulations to determine whether they should be retained or modified. Previously, the Commission conducted a voluntary review of the COPPA Rule in 2001 and a statutorily mandated review in 2005, retaining the Rule without change after the most recent review. The Commission explained that another review of the COPPA Rule is warranted at this time because a change has occurred in how people access the Internet, particularly through the use of mobile technology.  

The current review marks a more expansive review of the COPPA Rule by the Commission. In addition to seeking comment on the traditional questions of whether the COPPA Rule should be retained or modified, the Commission has also asked numerous questions about whether the COPPA Rule should apply across broader platforms and to more kinds of information. Comments are due June 30, 2010. On June 2, 2010, the Commission will host a workshop as part of its COPPA Rule review.