The Children’s Online Protection Act Evolves

Even if website owners don’t think they need to be concerned about the amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), the new regulations may prove otherwise.  As indicated by the FTC, the final amendments are as follows:

  • • modify the list of “personal information”  that cannot be collected without parental notice and consent, clarifying that this category includes geolocation information, photographs, and videos;
  • • offer companies a streamlined, voluntary and transparent approval process for new ways of getting parental consent;
  • • close 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;
  • • extend coverage in some of those cases so that the third parties doing the additional collection also have to comply with COPPA;
  • • 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;
  • • strengthen data security protections by requiring that covered website operators and online service providers take reasonable steps to release children’s personal information only to companies that are capable of keeping it secure and confidential;
  • • require that covered website operators adopt reasonable procedures for data retention and deletion; and
  • • strengthen the FTC’s oversight of self-regulatory safe harbor programs.

Third parties are required to take “reasonable measures” to delete a child’s information before going public, on sites like Facebook – they are also required to delete it from their records.  The newly enacted changes have mostly evolved to protect children from third-party sites such as mobile phone applications and social networking sites.  With the onset of new technology, the new amendments were enacted to account for the risks that accompanied the many advances in technology.