Today, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) approved the kidSAFE Seal Program as a “safe harbor program” under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the agency’s COPPA Rule. This make kidSAFE+ the 6th approved safe harbor program – joining Aristotle, inc., the children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of BBB’s, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, TrustE and PRIVO. The kidSAFE initial application is available at 130916kidsafeapplication.
Under the FTC’s COPPA Rule operators of online sites and services “directed at children under the age of 13” must provide notice to and obtain permission from a child’s parents/guardians before collecting the child’s personal information. The FTC’s COPPA safe harbor provision is designed to “provide flexibility and promote efficiency … by encouraging industry members or groups to develop their own COPPA oversight programs.” It’s taken nearly half a year for the kidSAFE Seal Program to gain COPPA Safe Harbor Approval of it’s kidSAFE+ certification under 16 CFR 312.11 of the Revised COPPA Rule, which went into effect last July.
The advantage to companies of taking part in an approved Safe Harbor method is that website operators can then, in most cases, be subject to the applicable review and enforcement procedures provided under the specific safe harbor’s guideline rather a formal FTC investigation and enforcement action.
In unanimously approving the kidSAFE+ certification, the Commission held that the kidSAFE safe harbor program will provide:
(i) “’the same or greater protections for children’ as those contained in the COPPA Rule;
(ii) effective mechanisms used to assess operators’ compliance; (ii) effective incentives for operators’ compliance with the guidelines; and
(iii) an adequate means for resolving consumer complaints.”
To discuss whether kidSAFE+ certification, one of the other previously approved COPPA safe harbor programs or other COPPA compliance methodology is necessary or best for your website operations fee free to call us at 203 307-2665 or email at info@SmartedgeLawGroup.com. And it bears remembering that California’s recently updates to its “CalOPPA” statute, which go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, will further complicate the handling of minors’ PII, with “minor” per CalOPPA defined differently and broader than the definition used by COPPA.