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The FTC commenced this mandatory review of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule ("Rule") in 2005, along with its periodic regulatory review to determine whether the Rule should be modified. Based on the information the Commission received during this review, and its extensive experience in enforcing the Rule, the FTC has concluded in this Report that:
- No changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ("Act") or Rule are necessary at this time.
- The Act and the Rule have been effective in helping to protect the privacy and safety of young children online. The proliferation of general audience websites, however, that may appeal to younger audiences, highlights the need for supplemental solutions, such as age verification technologies, that can provide additional measures of security for children as they increasingly engage in online activities.
- The Commission should continue law enforcement efforts by targeting significant violations and seeking increasingly larger civil penalties, when appropriate, to deter unlawful conduct.
- The FTC's substantial, ongoing, commitment to business education has facilitated voluntary compliance with the Rule within the online industry.
- COPPA's innovative approach of allowing a "safe harbor" from law enforcement action for website operators that comply with a Commission-approved COPPA self-regulatory program has been a cost-effective means of promoting Rule compliance.
- The Commission should continue to educate consumers, including parents and children, about privacy and security risks online generally, and about COPPA specifically, to increase awareness of these risks and actions that consumers can take to decrease them.
- The Act and the Rule do not appear to have adversely affected the number of websites directed to children or the ability of children to access online information of their choice.
- The agency's approach thus far has proven effective in applying the flexible standards of the Rule to new online services, such as social networking sites. Education and enforcement challenges may present themselves, however, as, for example, the means by which children access the Internet increasingly move from standalone computers to mobile devices.