Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

In this guide:

Key facets of the COPPA

Enacted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 1998 and revised in 2013, the COPPA was designed to address the unique vulnerabilities and challenges children face while navigating the digital world. The rule imposes strict regulations on websites, apps, and online services that target or collect data from children under 13. Its core objective is to provide parents with greater control over the personal information collected from their children, ensuring their consent is obtained before any data is acquired. Because children could visit just about any website on the open web, this regulation is far reaching and applies to any organization with users under 13 living in the United States.

In the ever-evolving landscape of the digital age, ensuring the privacy and protection of children online has become paramount. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) stands as the most significant legal framework in the United States for children’s data privacy. This comprehensive rule governs the collection, storage, and usage of children’s information by online platforms and services. Most companies are already compliant with this legislation and can be trusted, but it never hurts to be aware of your rights as a parent or legal guardian.

Key provisions of the COPPA include:

  • Parental consent: One of COPPA’s foundational principles is obtaining verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information of children. This process places the onus on platforms to establish mechanisms for verifying parental identity and obtaining consent.
  • Notice and transparency: Online services must provide clear and concise privacy policies, detailing the information collected, how it will be used, and any third parties with whom it will be shared. This empowers parents to make informed decisions about their children’s online activities.
  • Right to delete: COPPA affords parents the right to request, review and delete their children’s personal information from a data controller, granting them greater control over the information collected by online platforms.
  • Data security: The rule mandates robust security measures to protect children’s data from breaches and unauthorized access. This includes encryption, regular security assessments, and safeguards against internal and external threats.
  • Prohibition of deceptive practices: COPPA prohibits websites from using enticing language, such as games or contests, to encourage children to disclose more personal information than is necessary for the activity.

(Source: The Federal Trade Commission Website)

COPPA’s influence extends beyond its legal framework, permeating the broader conversation about children’s online safety and data privacy. The rule has led to increased awareness among parents, educators, and policymakers about the importance of protecting young internet users. Online platforms have adapted by implementing age verification mechanisms, enhancing data encryption, and developing more robust parental consent procedures.

As the digital landscape evolves, COPPA continues to evolve as well. The proliferation of connected devices and the expansion of social media platforms have prompted discussions about extending COPPA’s coverage to include teenagers. Additionally, the emergence of technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning requires ongoing dialogue about their implications on children’s data privacy.

Navigate the compliance landscape

The COPPA introduces a complex regulatory framework that rightly necessitates a reevaluation of business practices, particularly for entities that interact with children or collect their personal information. As businesses continue to innovate and engage with younger audiences through digital platforms, understanding the multifaceted impact of COPPA is crucial.

To remain compliant with COPPA and gain an competitive advantage, ensure your business has considered the following:

  • Compliance costs and challenges: Businesses must allocate resources for legal consultations, technical enhancements, and staff training to ensure adherence to the rule’s stringent requirements. Developing mechanisms for obtaining verifiable parental consent and maintaining secure data storage systems can strain smaller enterprises with limited budgets if a knowledgeable expert isn’t on payroll.
  • Altered data collection practices: COPPA necessitates a shift in data collection practices, requiring businesses to obtain explicit parental consent before gathering personal information from children. This alteration can impact the scope and depth of data that companies can gather, potentially affecting their ability to tailor products or services to younger demographics. Businesses must ensure it’s the parent submitting consent.
  • Enhanced transparency and communication: Businesses must provide clear, concise and visible privacy policies to inform parents about the data collected, its usage, and any third-party sharing. This heightened transparency can foster trust between businesses and parents if done properly, enhancing the brand’s reputation in the eyes of consumers.
  • Market differentiation and trustworthiness: COPPA compliance can serve as a powerful differentiator in a competitive market. Businesses that prioritize the privacy and security of children’s data can position themselves as responsible and ethical entities, appealing to parents seeking safe online environments.
  • Global implications: Companies operating internationally need to grapple with varying data privacy regulations around the world. COPPA’s scope extends beyond the United States as international discussions about children’s online privacy gain traction. Navigating a global landscape requires businesses to understand diverse regulatory frameworks and tailor their practices accordingly.
  • Education and awareness: Businesses must prioritize education and awareness among their staff. Ensuring that employees understand COPPA’s implications and are well-versed in compliance measures is critical for avoiding serious violations, inadvertent or otherwise.
  • Safe Harbor: Organizations can participate in a COPPA Safe Harbor program, creating their own FTC-approved regulatory guidelines. Doing so can help show a commitment to going above and beyond when it comes to maintaining children’s right to privacy.

The impact on businesses is far-reaching and multidimensional. While the COPPA introduced compliance challenges and necessitated adjustments to data collection and communication practices, it also offers opportunities for market differentiation and the cultivation of trust among consumers. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, businesses must remain adaptable and proactive in addressing the evolving requirements of COPPA and other data privacy regulations. By embracing responsible data privacy practices, companies can not only navigate the COPPA landscape effectively but also contribute to a safer and more secure online environment for children.

How Privacy Bee protects you

Nobody wants their child’s information collected, processed and sold across the internet and dark web for profit. Yet that’s exactly what Data Brokers and People Search Sites do on a daily basis, and they’re probably selling the parents’ data, too!

Privacy Bee lets you take back control of you and your family’s personal data by monitoring for its exposure and deleting it across the thousands of sites where it might be visible for cybercriminals to use and abuse today. Threat actors and cybercriminals don’t care who they’re targeting. They’re just looking for a payday, and the onus is still on the individual to request the removal of personal data from each site where it’s present today. That can be time-consuming to the point of being impossible, especially when the network of data sellers are resharing the information regularly. That’s where Privacy Bee steps in to scrub away your family’s digital footprint and mitigate the risk of identity theft.

For businesses, Privacy Bee can help ensure your consent verification processes via cookies are compliant, plus offer the training and support employees and executives need to better understand the best practices that can help protect your organization. At the same time, a company can reduce the risk of a data breach while safeguarding their own employees and customers. When it comes to External Data Privacy, it simply isn’t worth it to take your chances and potentially risk an expensive data breach. Plus, your employees and customers will see how your business is taking additional steps to protect their data, which can be a key differentiator in a competitive marketplace.

Privacy Bee proactive data privacy protection extends over a wide range of potential threats, including:

  • Phishing
  • Telemarketing calls
  • Cyberstalking
  • Swatting
  • Doxxing
  • Blackmail
  • Identity theft
  • Spam
  • Data breaches

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