On December 19, 2012, the FTC issued amendments to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule ("Rule"). The amendments clarify the scope of the Rule and strengthen its protections for children's personal information, in light of changes in online technology since the Rule went into effect in April 2000.
The final amended Rule includes modifications to the definitions of operator, personal information, and website or online service directed to children. The amended Rule also updates the requirements set forth in the notice, parental consent, confidentiality and security, and safe harbor provisions, and adds a new provision addressing data retention and deletion.
The final amendments:
- modify the list of "personal information" that cannot be collected without parental notice and consent, clarifying that this category includes geolocation information, photographs, and videos;
- offer companies a streamlined, voluntary and transparent approval process for new ways of getting parental consent;
- close a loophole that allowed kid-directed apps and websites to permit third parties to collect personal information from children through plug-ins without parental notice and consent;
- extend coverage in some of those cases so that the third parties doing the additional collection also have to comply with COPPA;
- extend the COPPA Rule to cover persistent identifiers that can recognize users over time and across different websites or online services, such as IP addresses and mobile device IDs;
- strengthen data security protections by requiring that covered website operators and online service providers take reasonable steps to release children's personal information only to companies that are capable of keeping it secure and confidential;
- require that covered website operators adopt reasonable procedures for data retention and deletion; and
- strengthen the FTC's oversight of self-regulatory safe harbor programs.