The Federal Trade Commission recently acted on three industry proposals in accordance with the new Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (the “COPPA Rule”) that came into effect July 1, 2013. Specifically, the FTC determined that it was unnecessary to rule on a proposed parental consent mechanism, approved a proposed “safe harbor” program and is seeking public comment on a separate proposed “safe harbor” program.
The COPPA Rule requires operators of certain websites and online services to obtain a parent’s consent before collecting personal information online from a child under the age of 13. In addition to the acceptable methods for obtaining the required parental consent listed in the COPPA Rule, the FTC’s revisions also allow entities to propose their own parental consent mechanisms for approval by the Commission. On February 25, 2014, the FTC determined that it was unnecessary to rule on a proposed parental consent mechanism submitted by iVeriFly, Inc. (“iVeriFly”) because iVeriFly’s proposal was merely a variation on existing parental consent mechanisms already recognized by the COPPA Rule or approved by the FTC.
In addition, the COPPA Rule permits industry to propose self-regulatory guidelines that implement the COPPA Rule’s protections. If the FTC approves a set of self-regulatory guidelines, companies that comply with those guidelines are protected (i.e., receive “safe harbor”) from FTC enforcement under the COPPA Rule. On February 12, 2014, the FTC announced that it approved a safe harbor program submitted by the kidSAFE Seal Program (“kidSAFE”). In the announcement, the FTC stated that kidSAFE’s self-regulatory guidelines provided the “same or greater protections” for children under the age of 13 as those contained in the COPPA Rule.
On March 14, 2014, the FTC announced that it was seeking public comment on a separate proposed safe harbor program submitted by the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (“iKeepSafe”). The public comment period is open until April 21, 2014.