The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it will not be extending the enforcement date for the revised rule addressing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA Rule). Specifically, by a unanimous vote, the Commissioners decided to retain the July 1, 2013 effective date for the revised COPPA Rule, noting that companies will have had more than six months to prepare. Therefore, operators of commercial websites and online services (including mobile apps) directed to children under 13 that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children, and operators of general audience websites or online services with actual knowledge that they are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13 should be prepared to comply by that date.
Recently, the FTC was contacted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which petitioned the FTC to delay implementation of its revised COPPA Rule for an additional six months. The IAB noted that many companies still need to make changes to their current policies and will need more time take to make such changes. Of particular concern to the IAB was the fact that the revised COPPA Rule expands the categories of websites that are covered by the Rule. Additionally, websites and apps will become liable for the practices of third-party vendors, such as ad networks, audience metrics, and plug-ins. While the IAB appreciates the fact that the COPPA Rule the need for many of the changes, it feels that companies need additional time to prepare to ensure that they do not violate the revised Rule and become subject to an FTC enforcement action. However, the FTC does not agree that additional time is needed.
All companies that collect personal information from children under 13 should be aware of the revised COPPA Rule and the pending effective date. In an effort to help companies prepare for the July 1 effective date, the FTC recently sent letters to companies both in the US and abroad whose online services, including mobile applications, appear to collect personal information from children under 13. The agency also updated its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page pertaining to COPPA to help advise companies on how best to comply and set up an email hotline (firstname.lastname@example.org) where it will accept questions pertaining to the revised Rule. The revised FAQs are available here. Our previous alert detailing the changes to the COPPA Rule is available here.