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Safety Tips for Parents Buying Smart and Connected Toys This Holiday Season

Teddy bears once filled with stuffing are now hard-wired with smart technology. Internet-connected toys can be fun but they can also put your family at risk if proper care is not taken when buying and using these devices.

Now, more than ever before, The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) encounters toys that may collect personal information (e.g. name, email address) from children. Unfortunately, this may be done without parents knowing it’s happening. Much like many offline experiences where parent’s permission is required before collecting or using your child’s information, the online world is the same: parental permission is required! These connected toys aren’t inherently bad; in fact, they can be highly educational and fun as long as parents are well-informed and choose wisely. But if you choose the wrong toy, there can be consequences (check out our issues we had with a recent smart toy here) Santa checks his list twice and responsible parents should too-- you may be surpr…
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FTC Provides Additional Guidance on COPPA and Voice Recordings

Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provided additional guidance on the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) when it comes to voice recordings. Find out more about this policy on the FTC's website here.

In Case You Haven't Heard, CARU Welcomed Dona Fraser as its New Director

CARU recently welcomed leading privacy expert, Dona Fraser to its team as its Director. We are looking forward to an exciting year full of new opportunities. Dona comes to CARU from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a self-regulatory program developed by the video game industry. Ms. Fraser brings a strong understanding of the challenges that the industry is facing both here and abroad. As CARU enters this new and exciting era, we look forward to sharing our upcoming priorities in the near future.

For more information, please visit CARU's Press Release here.

FTC Updates its Endorsement Guides

Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an updated version of The FTC's Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking. The revised version includes more than an additional 20 questions and answers to specific scenarios of social media marketing and whether disclosures of material connections are required in such situations.

These new questions touch upon tags, Instagram, Snapchat, obligations of foreign influencers, disclosure of free travel as well as the adequacy of certain popularized hashtags like #ambassador.

FTC Updates its Guidance on COPPA with Compliance Plan for Businesses

In an effort to stay up to date with technology developments like internet-connected toys and other devices for children, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”)  updated its guidance for complying with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). It released a “Six-Step Compliance Plan for Your Business." The document is an excellent resource for businesses looking for clarity and guidance on how to comply with COPPA.

COPPA Makes its Mark on HBO’s Silicon Valley

You know you’ve made it when you’re featured on HBO’s hit comedy, Silicon Valley, the show that portrays the hilarious ups and downs of a Bay Area tech start-up.  The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) got a starring role last week in the second episode – “Term of Service” – of the show’s 4th Season on HBO.
To recap, Dinesh Chugtai, CEO of the company that developed the wildly popular app “PiperChat,” has a breakdown when he realizes that the video chat app violates COPPA because 1/3 of its users are kids under 13 years old.  He loses his power-trip swagger when the start-up’s ex-con lawyer tells him about the $16,000 per usage violation –potential fines in the billions of dollars – and eventually collapses in a pitiful heap in the company bathtub. 
What Dinesh and the show’s writers don’t know is that it in June 2016, the FTC announced that it would be increasing its maximum civil penalty amount from $16,000 to $40,000 per violation under COPPA.
Had Dinesh turned to…

Amazon Drops Appeal Related to Unauthorized In-App Charges Incurred by Children

The Federal Trade Commission and Amazon Inc. have agreed to end the appeal based on last year's court findings that Amazon charged consumers for unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children. Affected consumers will soon be able to seek refunds from the online retailer. Visit the FTC press release for more information.