The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed significant changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule), seeking to impose stricter regulations on the use and disclosure of children’s personal information. The proposed amendments intend to curtail the ability of companies to condition access to services on monetizing children’s data, aiming to shift the responsibility for ensuring digital services’ safety from parents to service providers.
The COPPA Rule, originally enacted in 2000, mandates websites and online services collecting personal information from children under 13 to notify parents and obtain verifiable consent. The proposed changes address evolving practices in collecting, using, and disclosing personal information, especially regarding the monetization of children’s data. Key elements of the proposed changes include the requirement for a separate opt-in for targeted advertising, reinforcing the prohibition on conditioning a child’s participation on excessive data collection, and placing limits on using online contact information to prompt children to stay online.
The FTC also aims to strengthen data security requirements, mandating operators to establish and maintain a written children’s personal information security program. Additionally, the proposal includes adjustments related to education technology, Safe Harbor programs, and data retention policies. These changes reflect the FTC’s commitment to adapting COPPA to contemporary online practices while prioritizing children’s privacy and safety. The proposed changes stem from the FTC’s ongoing review initiated in 2019, considering the evolving landscape of online children’s services, such as voice-enabled devices and educational technology.
The current proposals build upon the 2013 amendments, reflecting the increased use of mobile devices and social networking since then. Seeking to hold service providers accountable, the amendments address concerns related to targeted advertising, nudging children to stay online, and the commercial use of children’s information in the education technology sector. The public will have 60 days to submit comments on the proposed changes, emphasizing the FTC’s commitment to fostering a safer online environment for children.