The FTC updated its guidance on the COPPA Rule. See press release. The FTC has issued an updated set of FAQs designed to help website operators, mobile application developers, plug-ins and advertising networks operating on child-directed websites and online services prepare for upcoming changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule. The FAQs contain information directed to websites and online services whose work online may involve the collection of personal information from children under age 13. The document provides guidance from the FTC staff that supplements the Rule previously published by the FTC.
Not everyone thinks the effective date of July 1, 2013 is a good idea. The App Developers Alliance first sent a letter to the FTC requesting that the date be delayed. See COPPA Delay Letter Request and COPPA Rule Delay Request. One of the complaints being that the FTC had failed to issue guidance but also cautioning that doing so, at this late date, would not be sufficient. The Internet Advertising Bureau, the Direct Marketing Association, Motion Picture Association of America, Online Publishers Association, Newspaper Association of America and other organizations, have joined the effort to get an extension agreeing that more time is needed to comply with the new COPPA regulations.
Not to be undone, in a six-page letter to FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the Center for Digital Democracy, Common Sense Media, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Privacy Information Center and 15 other privacy groups warned that any delay is "unwarranted," would harm children and "undermine the goals of both Congress and the FTC." See the letter here.
Shortly after, or during, this exchange of letters, the FTC issued its updated guidance. "We appreciate the FTC releasing this guidance, but just nine weeks from the effective date, this is too little, too late,” the App Developers Alliance said in a statement to Politico. The App Developers Alliance said that, “App developers and their partners needed these guidelines four months ago to have a chance to implement the complex changes the new rules require. In light of this very late guidance, we reiterate our request for a six-month delay in implementation."
Will the FTC grant an extension? Not clear. As recently as yesterday, FTC staff presenting at an IAPP Knowledgenet presentation at Holland & Knight, would not speculate saying the matter was before the Commission. What is clear, having been asked to help a variety of companies comply with the new regulation -- companies that have mixed audience sites; primarily adult audiences; companies with online services clearly directed to children, while others not so clearly -- there is still a lot of confusion in the marketplace (particularly around the use of unique device identifiers, and social plug-ins) and a lot left to be done before July 1, 2013. Stay tuned here for updates.