On July 25, the Federal Trade Commission published a request for public comment on its implementation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) through the COPPA Rule. 

COPPA regulates how websites and online services collect data and personal information from children. The FTC’s COPPA Rule requires that such operators who collect personal information from children under the age of 13 provide notice to parents and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from those children. 

The FTC most recently amended the Rule in 2013 to address changes in the way children use and access the Internet, including the increased use of mobile devices and social networking. These amendments included an expanded definition of children’s personal information, including persistent identifiers such as cookies that track a child’s activity online, as well as geolocation information, photos, videos, and audio recordings. 

Although the FTC typically reviews its rules every 10 years, it cited rapid changes in technology, including the expanded use of education technology, as the reason for its accelerated review cycle. In addition to standard questions about the effectiveness of the Rule and whether it should be retained or modified, the FTC is seeking comment on all of the Rule’s major provisions, including definitions, notice and parental consent requirements, exceptions to verifiable parental consent, and safe harbor provision.  

The FTC is also seeking comment on whether the 2013 revisions to the Rule have resulted in stronger protections for children and greater parental control over the collection of personal information from children, as well as whether these changes have had any negative consequences. 

The comment period is open until October 7, 2019, when the FTC will hold a public workshop to examine the Rule.