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Friday, January 30, 2015

FTC Rejects Proposed Verifiable Parental Consent Mechanism

On January 27th, 2015 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) informed AgeCheq Inc. that its proposed verifiable parental consent mechanism under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) did not comply with the Rule. The FTC stated in its letter that the it is:
Not COPPA compliant and is not reasonably calculated, in light of available technology, to ensure that the person providing consent is the child’s parent. 
For further details, visit the FTC Website and read its entire letter to AgeCheq Inc. here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How COPPA Applies in the School Setting: What You Need to Know

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA as it is affectionately referred, requires entities covered by the law to notify parents and get their approval before they collect, use, or disclose personal information from children. COPPA has many grey areas and after its most recent revision, many companies have been scrambling to make sure that they are coloring between the lines. 

One question that is often raised is how does COPPA apply to the schools? Lesley Fair from the FTC wrote a recent blog post trying to help folks get some insight to where the FTC lands on this issue. She states simply, 

"Schools – which are usually part of the local government – don’t fall within the legal definition of who’s covered by COPPA because they aren’t commercial “operators.” That said, schools sometimes allow, or even require, students to use sites and services that are covered by COPPA and which must provide notice and get verifiable parental consent."

It seems as though, based on COPPA's statement of purpose, according to Fair, that COPPA has carved out an exception in COPPA where it allows the schools to act as intermediaries for parents in the educational setting. This ability to give consent on the parent's behalf is limited though, naturally, to the educational context--in other words, this privilege does not extend to commercial use. Schools of course remain responsible for protecting students' privacy, which we think makes sense.

Visit the FTC's website to learn more about COPPA in Schools

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Experts Recommends Children 14 and Under be Protected by Food Marketing Policies

A panel of experts convened recently. They were brought together by the Healthy Eating Research, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Panelists include Margo Wootan Director of Nutrition for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, David Britt former CEO of Sesame Workshop, Dale Kunkel of University of Arizona, William Deitz of George Washington University and members of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. The group had several recommendations for policies on food marketing aimed at kids. 

First, the panel recommended that the who is considered to be the audience of children should be expanded. The group believes that not only kids 11 and younger should be covered. Instead, the experts recommend that audiences of children ages 14 and younger should be included. Second, the group said that media/programs should be considered child-directed if children make up 25 percent or more of the audience, as opposed to what most companies use now, which is 35 percent.

The experts also believe that sometimes advertising that doesn't appear in specifically kid-targeted programs/websites, should still be able to be considered kids marketing in certain situations. That means that food packaging, toy premiums and even things like in-store displays would be covered under the proposed approach.

Elaine Kolish of the The Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative issued a statement about the Healthy Eating Research Recommendations. 

CFBAI CARU and HER share the goal of wanting our nation’s children to grow up healthy. Childhood obesity is multi-faceted problem that requires all segments of our society to solve. Through our programs, major food and beverage advertisers are part of the solution. CFBAI and CARU administer robust, highly-regarded advertising self-regulation programs that have significantly improved the children’s food marketing landscape.

To read Elaine Kolish's full statement, please visit the Better Business Bureau's Website

Monday, January 12, 2015

Why Everyone Still Needs to Be Worried About Children's Privacy

Last week, Allison Fitzpatrick from Davis & Gilbert LLP wrote an article in Ad Age essentially warning folks that it's not just the apps and websites targeting children that need to worry about the FTC and other regulators when it comes to children's privacy. Although the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) revisions went into effect all the way back in July 2013, it was generally understood that there was a bit of a grace period as companies grappled with how to implement changes that at the time much of the industry did not entirely grasp. However, it seems clear that in the coming year, that grace period has ended and that the FTC may be increasing its actions not only exclusively in the child space anymore but also in a more overlapping gray area where companies may not expect it.

In the article, Fitzpatrick has several predictions for 2015, which include more COPPA actions on a state level, COPPA actions that no longer apply to only child-directed websites, behavioral targeting on kid sites and more scrutiny of social media. Advocacy groups have been on the FTC for years, urging them to take a harder line when it comes to children's privacy. Will 2015 be the year?

To read the full article, be sure to check out Ad Age. For more information about the author, Allison Fitzpatrick, check out her bio here.