childrens onlline privacy protection act

When is your website or app covered by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and the FTC’s COPPA Rule?  Although there are gray areas under COPPA, one clear way to fall under this law is to know that you’re collecting information from children under the age of 13 online.  That’s part of what landed Musical.ly, now known as TikTok, in trouble with the FTC – including a record-setting COPPA fine of $5.7 million.  COPPA isn’t limited to the kinds of video social network apps that Musical.ly provides; broadcasters’ websites and apps may end up falling under COPPA.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Musical.ly knew that it was collecting information from children under 13 (COPPA doesn’t apply to anyone else) for several reasons.  For instance, press articles described the popularity of Musical.ly among under-13 users, the company received hundreds of complaints from parents trying to close their kids’ accounts, and the company itself provided guidance to parents regarding their children’s usage of the app. 
Continue Reading FTC Obtains Record $5.7 Million Fine for Children’s Privacy Protection Act Violation

It’s the holiday season, and many of us are turning our thoughts to celebrating with friends and family. It is also high season for shopping, which means the airwaves, social media, websites and print pages are full of opportunities to buy, sell, and advertise. Whether you consider that to be a feature or a bug,

If your station engages in children’s programming and maintains a website or web page directed to children under the age of 13, this case may be of interest to you. 

The operator of a website called Skid-e-Kids, a self-described “Facebook and MySpace for kids,” has learned that it is not enough merely to have a privacy policy that requires parental consent prior to obtaining personal information online from children under the age of 13. Such website operators must actually abide by that policy as well. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reinforced that lesson via an enforcement action and settlement with the company this week.

Skid-e-Kids (skidekids.com) advertises itself as “Safe, Fun and very educational.” Their target group is children ages 7-14. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) and corresponding FTC rule require parental consent before children under the age of 13 can be requested or required to provide personal information online.

Skid-e-Kids had a Privacy Policy that “requires child users to provide a parent’s valid email address in order to register on the website.” In practice, however, that was not the case. Children were required to provide a birth date, gender, user name, password and email address prior to using the website. Once that information was provided, the child was automatically registered on the website. Worse still, Skid-e-Kids did not even request a parent’s email address and made no attempt to notify parents or obtain parental consent.


Continue Reading FTC Consent Decree Reinforces Need for Websites Aimed at Kids to Comply with COPPA

Legal issues regarding privacy have long been an issue for broadcasters and other media companies.  Traditionally, privacy concerns for media companies have arisen in the context of news gathering, advertising or other on-air content that either was gathered in a way that intruded on someone’s privacy, or which used private facts or personal images, without consent, for commercial