The recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposal to update its Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule) has hit the Federal Register. As discussed in our advisory issued when the rule came out, which can be found here, this is the first time in the decade-plus history of the Rule that the FTC has proposed amendments. The FTC seeks to update the rule to account for changes in technology and online practices, primarily, the popularity of social networking and use of smartphones to access the Internet and provide location information.
Insofar as COPPA is designed to provide notice to parents and secure their verifiable consent prior to online collection and use of personal information from children under the age of 13, the changes could require significant operational changes for websites covered by the Rule. Perhaps more importantly, COPPA is seen by some as a model for more general, farther-reaching regulation of uses of personal information, as we describe here. Consequently, changes to the COPPA Rule to address many of the same technologies and practices that are at the center of privacy debates generally may resonate therein. The FTC's proceeding is thus one that bears close attention.