FTC Finalizes Children’s’ Privacy Rule Amendments

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Explore:  COPPA FTC Parental Consent

On December 19, the FTC announced final amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule. According to the FTC’s release, the final amendments (i) include geolocation information, photographs, and videos in the list of “personal information” that cannot be collected from children under 13 without parental notice and consent, (ii) offer companies a streamlined, voluntary, and transparent approval process for new ways of getting parental consent, (iii) 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, (iv) require compliance by such third parties in some of those cases, (v) require compliance by persistent identifiers that can recognize users over time and across different websites or online services, (vi) require 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, (vii) require that covered website operators adopt reasonable procedures for data retention and deletion, and (viii) strengthen the FTC’s oversight of self-regulatory safe harbor programs. The amendments also modify several other key definitions in the rule. Notably, the revised definition of “operator” clarifies that the rule covers a child-directed site or service that integrates outside services that collect personal information from its visitors, but it does not extend liability to platforms that merely offer the public access to child-directed apps. FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen voted against the amendments and issued a dissenting statement in which she argued that the new definition of “operator” goes beyond what Congress authorized by imposing obligations on websites or online services that do not collect personal information from children or have access to or control of such information collected by a third party.