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Got Kids Under 13?

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It’s summertime. For kids, that might mean days at the pool, sleep-away camp, summer school…and hours on some computer or mobile device, if they can possibly get away with it. 

Starting today, parents might feel a little better about their younger kids’ privacy online. That’s because changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) rule take effect today. The act requires operators of websites or online services directed to kids under 13 to give notice to parents — and get their verifiable consent — before collecting, using, or disclosing a kid’s personal information. The rule also applies to general audience sites that know they’re collecting information from kids under 13, and to sites and online services that have actual knowledge they’re collecting information from sites directed to children. The rule applies to apps, too, not just to websites.

The new COPPA rule beefs up privacy protections and parental controls, and bars the use of behavioral marketing techniques aimed at kids without getting a parent’s okay. To get verifiable consent from parents, sites will have to provide:

  • Clearer, easier to understand notices that put key information up front.
  • Privacy policies, not just on the home or landing page — or the app screen — but also wherever the site or service collects personal information. The privacy policy must give details about the kinds of information the site collects, what it might do with the information, and parents’ rights to exercise control – including to stop future collection and delete information already collected.
  • Directions on how to give your consent — it might mean a permission slip, a toll-free number to call, or something else. And you get to decide how much permission to give: for example, maybe you’re OK with a site collecting your kid’s information, but not with sharing it. It’s up to you.

In addition, the new COPPA rule changes the definition of personal information to make it clear that geolocation information is included and to expand it to add photos, videos, and audio files that contain a child’s image or voice. They also re-define the collection of personal information so that operators may allow kids to participate in interactive communities without their parent’s okay — as long as the operators don’t otherwise collect personal information, and take reasonable measures to delete kids’ personal information before it is made public.  

Learn more about the changes to the COPPA Rule. And if you have a site for kids, you might want to check out this advice for businesses.

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