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FTC amends COPPA regulations


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After a number of revisions based on feedback from the public, kids advocacy groups and internet companies, The US Federal Trade Commission has amended its Children’s Online Privacy Protection (COPPA) rules to include social networks and mobile apps.

The COPPA changes are aimed to strengthen kid’s privacy protections in an increasingly digital world and help parents control the information that websites, app developers and online services collect from children under 13 years old.

Amendments include:

-The modification of the list of “personal information” that cannot be collected without parental notice and consent to include geo-location information, photographs, videos and audio files that contain a child’s image or voice;

-An expanded definition of a website or online service directed to children to include plug-ins or ad networks that have knowledge of personal information collection through a child-directed website or online service;

- A voluntary and transparent approval process offered to companies for new ways of acquiring parental consent;

-The closing of a loophole that allowed kid-targeting apps and websites to share personal information from children with third parties via plug-ins without parental notice and consent;

-The prohibition of certain persistent identifiers, such as IP addresses, usernames and mobile device IDs, that can recognize users over time across different websites or online services;

-A requirement that developers and website operators take reasonable steps to share children’s data only to companies that are capable of keeping it secure and confidential;

-A strengthening of the FTC’s oversight of self-regulatory safe harbor programs by requiring them to audit their members and report the results annually to the Commission

The complete list of amendments can be found at www.ftc.gov.

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