In 1998 when the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was passed, only about 50% of children ages 5 – 17 used the Internet. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule) was mandated by that Act. It required that operators of websites or online services geared toward children obtain parents’ verifiable consent before collecting, using, or disclosing such personal information about children and keeping that information secure.
Flash forward to 2010 and the FTC realized the need to review the rule to make sure it was keeping up with “evolving technology and changes in the way children use and access the Internet, including the increased use of mobile devices and social networking.” The review included a public roundtable and several rounds of public comments.
The FTC recently adopted final amendments to the COPPA Rule. It strengthens children’s privacy protections and gives parents greater control over the personal information that websites and online services may collect from children under 13.
An FTC press release dated 12/19/2012 outlined the main strengthened protections as follows:
– Modifies the list of “personal information” that can’t be collected without parental notice and consent to include geolocation information, photographs, videos and audio files
– Streamlines the process companies must follow to get parental consent and added several new methods to get that consent: electronic scans of signed parental consent forms, video-conferencing, use of government-issued identification, and alternative payment systems, such as debit cards and electronic payment systems
– Closes a loophole that allowed third parties to collect personal information from children through plug-ins without parental notice and consent
– Extends the Rule to cover persistent identifiers such as IP addresses and mobile device IDs that can recognize users over time and across different websites or online services
– Requires website operators and online service providers to take reasonable steps to release children’s personal information only to companies that are capable of keeping it secure and confidential
– Requires website operators to adopt reasonable procedures for data retention and deletion
The FTC “takes seriously its mandate to protect children’s online privacy in this ever-changing technological landscape. I am confident that the amendments to the COPPA Rule strike the right balance between protecting innovation that will provide rich and engaging content for children, and ensuring that parents are informed and involved in their children’s online activities,” said FTC Chairperson Jon Leibowitz.
For more information you can trust, see
New Online Game Teaches Cyber Safety to Kids
FTC Offers Video Game Primer to Help Parents
NCPW – Keeping Kids Safe Online
Helping Young People Learn to Protect Themselves Online (Internet Safety)
Children and Internet Safety Resources and Links
Do You Know Where Your Kids Are On the Internet? Keeping Your Kids Safe Online By Teaching Them the Seven Stop Signs
Social Networking Safety Tips