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Is your website or mobile app compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)?

Posted by Clyde Hutchins | Sep 06, 2016 | 0 Comments

Is your website or mobile app compliant with COPPA?

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was enacted in 1998. The Federal Trade Commission enforces COPPA.  COPPA aims to give parents control over the information that is collected online from young children. It requires that certain website and mobile app operators take certain steps to ensure that parents can exert some control over the personal information collected from their young children.

Who does it apply to?

COPPA applies to operators of websites, online services and mobile apps that are directed to children under 13 years old that collect, use or disclose personal information about children. It also applies to operators of general websites, online services and mobile apps that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information from young children.

What types of "Personal Information" is covered by COPPA?

Under COPPA, the concept of "personal information" of children under 13 includes the children's name, address, phone number, email address, location, IP address, photos, audios and videos.

What must be done to comply with COPPA?

Operators of websites and mobile apps that are covered by COPPA must implement and follow certain procedures. This includes (a) posting the company privacy policy regarding the collection of personal information from children, (b) providing direct notice to parents and obtaining consent before collecting personal information from children, (c) giving parents the choice of consenting to the collection and use of personal information, (d) giving parents access to the personal information collected to review or delete, (e) providing options to prevent collection and use of personal information, (f) maintaining the security and confidentiality of personal information and (g) implementing appropriate retention efforts that only preserve the personal information as long as necessary.

What happens if I am not compliant with COPPA?

The Federal Trade Commission can initiate an enforcement action against you. COPPA provides for civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation.

What should I do if I think that I am not compliant with COPPA?

You should immediately cease collecting personal information from young children. Then review your privacy policies and information gathering procedures. Correct all the deficiencies before collecting information again.

What should I do if I think that I am probably compliant with COPPA, but not sure?

If that is the case, then go ahead with reviewing the privacy policies and information gathering procedures. Correct as needed.

If you have any questions about compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) or need assistance in ensuring compliance with COPPA, please feel free to contact Harmony Law.

About the Author

Clyde Hutchins

Clyde Hutchins is the founder of Harmony Law. Prior to opening Harmony Law, Mr. Hutchins worked in the Wyoming Attorney General's Office for several years where he developed a strong consumer protection enforcement unit. In that position he led over 120 investigations and enforcement actions under the Consumer Protection Act. He worked on numerous joint cases with the Federal Trade Commission and other states, including Colorado, on consumer protection matters. Mr. Hutchins is also a contributing author to Consumer Protection Law Developments, Second Edition. Previous to his work in the Attorney General's Office, Mr. Hutchins was in private practice in Anchorage, Alaska where he was the chief litigator for a firm. Mr. Hutchins represented municipalities on various matters. Mr. Hutchins provided counsel to businesses and investment advisors regarding compliance with securities laws. He was also a bond lawyer and worked on municipal financing matters. Prior to that, Mr. Hutchins practiced civil litigation with a law firm in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Mr. Hutchins devotes his spare time to his family, traveling and enjoying the great outdoors.

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Harmony Law is one of the few law firms in Colorado and Wyoming that focuses on consumer law. Mr. Hutchins is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and state chair for Wyoming. If you have a consumer law issue, please feel free to call 970-488-1857 and speak with Mr. Hutchins.

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