July 2017

FTC brings major update to COPPA

In the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in, it's no wonder regulators struggle to keep up. Laws that were written 50 years ago are still being used to govern the social-centric world of today - not always the easiest task. Well the FTC has taken this disconnect into their own hands, and updated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to more closely align with today's world.

The updated "Six-Step Compliance Plan for your Business," outlines how to determine whether a business is covered by COPPA; as well as how to make sure you are in full compliance. The updated plan went into effect on July 1, 2017 and, if your business is covered by COPPA, requires you to include certain information in your privacy policy, and to get parental consent before collecting some types of data from kids under 13.

The revised plan really focuses on three key areas:

1) Methods for securing parental consent - COPPA has always required parental consent, but the FTC has now extended the methods to include knowledge-based challenge questions; as well as the use of facial recognition technology to verify a photo ID.

2) Data collection methods - COPPA covers much more than just a website or online service (and the FTC defines these terms very broadly). So, take some time to evaluate if your company is collecting data through avenues that are not as obvious, such as mobile apps, gaming platforms, plug-ins and voice-over internet.

3) Internet-connected products for children - Toy manufacturers whose products combine a traditional toy with internet connectivity could be stepping into COPPA territory. Ad Age recently published an article elaborating on the struggle toy manufacturers are having as they continue to innovate while staying COPPA-compliant. 1

Brands should consider how new ways of collecting data and engaging children may subject them to obligations under COPPA. The FTC's updated COPPA guidelines should serve as a reminder to all businesses to consider how these new ways of interacting with children may intersect with applicable privacy regulations.

To read the FTC's complete new plan, visit: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/childrens-online-privacy-protection-rule-six-step-compliance

Sources Cited

1 Pasquarelli, Adrianne. "Forget Chucky. Today's Tech Toys Are Much Scarier (For Marketers)," Ad Age,
  "http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/terror-toys-privacy-breached/309109/

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By Jenn Reilly
VP/Group Director, Legal Compliance

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