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Data Collection Moves Fast: the FTC Seeks Comment on Modernizing the COPPA Rule

The Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) has issued a request for public comment on the continued effectiveness of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule issued pursuant to COPPA, 15 U.S.C. 6501, et seq., (the “COPPA Rule”, the “Rule”), which came into effect in April 2000 and was amended in January 2013. The Rule was designed to protect the personal information of children under the age of 13 in the United States. The Rule requires that certain commercial websites and online services provide parental notice and obtain verifiable parental consent prior to collecting, using, or disclosing children’s personal information. Such operators must also establish internal controls to protect the security of any personal information collected from children.

The FTC seeks comment on the Rule in light of myriad new ways in which technology allows for personal information to be collected, and has issued specific questions to direct the conversation. Areas of focus include the applicability of the Rule to voice-enabled devices; whether an exception should be made to the parental consent requirement for educational technology in schools; and whether the Rule is articulated broadly enough to capture sites and services that are not traditionally child-oriented yet have a significant user base of children under age 13.

The Notice has now run in the Federal Register and written comments will be accepted until October 23, 2019. The FTC will also hold a public workshop considering the Rule on October 7, 2019 in D.C.

Ultimately, operators offering children’s content or with a large child user base must keep abreast of initiatives to modernize the COPPA Rule. If you have any questions on best practices for managing your requirements under the Rule, or wish to discuss the possible submission of comments to the FTC, please contact any member of our Privacy & Cybersecurity Practice.