COPPA: New Year, New Requests to FTC For Investigation of Violations

by Mintz Levin - Privacy & Security Matters
Contact

As we predicted in our prior blog post reviewing the key children’s privacy developments of the past year, 2014 is turning out to be the year of enforcement of children’s privacy regulations! The first two requests for investigation under the Amended COPPA Rule have been filed with the FTC by the Center for Digital Democracy (“CDD”), a consumer rights organization.  The CDD is claiming that two of the major players in the children’s online market place, Marvel Entertainment (“Marvel”) and Sanrio Co., Ltd. (“Sanrio”) failed to comply with the Amended COPPA Rule’s parental notice and verifiable consent requirements as well as with the requirement that the privacy policy is clearly written and accurate.

In its complaint against Sanrio (the “Sanrio Complaint”), the CDD asked the FTC to investigate Sanrio for operating its Hello Kitty Carnival mobile application in violation of the Amended COPPA Rule. Hello Kitty Carnival is a free mobile app for children that, as of the date of the Sanrio Complaint, has been downloaded more than a million times. The CDD alleged that Sanrio as well as several third-party advertising companies listed on Appendix A to the Sanrio Complaint access and collect via the Hello Kity Carnival app, and likely disclose, at least four categories of personal information from children under 13 (unique device identifiers, photos of children, geolocation information, and online contact information such as e-mail addresses) without providing COPPA-compliant notice to parents and obtaining verifiable parental consent in advance, as required by the Amended COPPA Rule. Further, the complaint alleges that Sanrio’s privacy policy does not accurately reflect Sanrio’s actual information collection and privacy practices contrary to the requirements of the Amended COPPA Rule and provides several examples of inconsistencies between the written policy and the Sanrio’s actual practices.  The CDD used a mobile and web privacy expert to monitor and identify the data flow between various user devices (Motorola Droid 2 and Apple Ipad 2) and the Hello Kitty Carnival app to determine compliance with the Amended COPPA Rule and attached the expert’s written declaration to the Sanrio Complaint.

In its complaint against Marvel (the “Marvel Complaint”), the CDD asked the FTC to investigate Marvel for operating its Marvelkids.com website in violation of the Amended COPPA Rule. The CDD also requested that the FTC investigate Marvel’s parent company, Disney Corporation, and several third parties collecting information on Marvelkids.com for violating the Amended COPPA Rule.  Marvelkids.com (the “Site”) is a child-directed website where children can access content and videos about the Marvel superheroes and play games. The Site also contains ads for children’s toys and games. The Marvel Complaint alleges that Marvel and various third parties, including Google, BlueKai, DataXu, and Turn, collect via the Site and use and disclose personal information (including IP addresses and browsing history) of children under 13 through the use of various tracking technologies without providing notice and obtaining verifiable parental consent prior to engaging in such activities, as required by the Amended COPPA Rule. The Marvel Complaint also alleges that the privacy policy for the Site is inadequate, despite the fact that Marvel is a certified participant of the CARU ®Kid’s Privacy Safe Harbor Program since 2009.  Lastly, the CDD urges the FTC in the Marvel Complaint to investigate the effectiveness of COPPA safe harbor programs. As with the Sanrio Complaint, the CDD used a mobile and web privacy expert to monitor and identify the data flow between a user’s computer and the Site to determine compliance with the Amended COPPA Rule and attached the expert’s written declaration to the Marvel Complaint.

Sanrio has not yet commented on the allegations, however, the Walt Disney Company issued a statement denying the allegations in the Marvel Complaint shortly after it was filed. If found to have violated the Amended COPPA Rule, the accused parties could face penalties of up to $16,000 per violation if found guilty. Is your COPPA compliance house in order?

Written by:

Mintz Levin - Privacy & Security Matters
Contact
more
less

Mintz Levin - Privacy & Security Matters on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!