Thursday, April 21, 2005

FTC Seeks COPAA Comments

The FTC is seeking comments on certain aspects of their rules relating to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, also known as COPPA.

Comments are due June 27, 2005.

Their web address is: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/04/coppacomments.htm

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on its implementation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) through the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.

They are also seeking additional comment on the COPPA Rule’s sliding scale approach to obtaining parental consent, which takes into account how information gathered from children will be used.

COPPA affects Web sites or online services which are directed to children under 13 years old and Web sites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information from a child under 13 years old.

The rules have been somewhat controversial in the online, business, and privacy community.

The FTC is taking comments on all aspects of the rules, and is specifically seeking comments on the Rule’s effect on:

* Practices relating to the collection and disclosure of information relating to children

* Children’s ability to obtain access to information of their choice online

* The availability of Web sites directed to children.

The agency also is seeking comments on four additional issues on which public comment would be especially useful:

* Whether factors such as the subject matter of the site, visual or audio content, age of models, language used, and target audience should be clarified or supplemented.

* Whether the term “actual knowledge” is sufficiently clear and whether Web site operators are encouraging children to back-button and change their age.

* The use of credit cards as a means of obtaining verifiable parental consent.

* The COPPA safe harbor program.

The Commission will report to Congress on the results of this review of the COPPA Rule, as well as commence rulemaking proceedings, if warranted, in response to the comments received.

The FTC is also seeking additional comment on the COPPA Rule’s sliding scale mechanism for obtaining verifiable parental consent.

Operators of Web sites and online services that collect children’s personal information solely for internal use can obtain parental consent through the use of an e-mail to the parent plus an additional step to provide assurance that the person providing the consent is actually the parent. Operators that wish to disclose children’s information publicly or to third parties must employ more reliable methods of obtaining parental consent, such as using a print-and-send consent form; a credit card transaction; a toll-free telephone number staffed by trained personnel; a digital certificate using public key technology; or an e-mail with a password or PIN obtained by one of the above methods.

In 2002, the Commission extended the sliding scale approach until April 21, 2005.

Anyone who filed comments on the sliding scale issue need not do so again after January 2005 does not have to do so again.

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