COPPA rule expanded by FTC to keep up with growth of smartphone, app usage among kids

Recognizing the advances of commercial practices and technology over the past decade, including smartphones, the Federal Trade Commission has adopted final amendments to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act to reflect the growing presence of websites geared towards kids. Among the changes to the COPPA Rule, the new regulations expand the list of personal information that cannot be collected by websites without parental notice and consent, clarifying that this category includes geolocation information, photographs, and videos.

The FTC final amendments also extend the COPPA Rule to cover persistent identifiers that can recognize users over time and across different websites or online services, such as IP addresses and mobile device IDs. In addition, the revised COPPA Rule closes a loophole that allowed kid-directed apps and websites to permit third parties to collect personal information from children through plug-ins without parental notice and consent.

In 2010, the FTC initiated a review of the 1998 COPPA Rule to ensure the regulations kept up with evolving technology and changes in e-commerce. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller  and Leibowitz held a Dec. 19 joint press conference to discuss the new COPPA regulations.

"When a children's website or application allows third-parties to collect information from children, those websites and apps will be liable under COPPA," said Rockefeller. "Third-parties will also be held liable if they know they are collecting information on websites or apps directed toward children," he added.

Rockefeller acknowledged that he and Leibowitz would liked to have gone farther with the COPPA regulations. However, he said the FTC went as far as it could. "There will be groups that will complain about it and so will I," said Rockefeller, "but we can't do anything more about it right now because the FTC is governed by law."

For more:
-read statement by FTC Chairman Leibowitz
-read FTC press release
-watch joint press conference

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