Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

Practice Areas

By: Qudrat Kunder

Children’s safety has become a growing issue with the advancement of technologies, especially the internet. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) allows parents to control what information websites can collect from children. While it is especially important for websites that aim their content at a younger audience, any website that collects information from children under the age of thirteen, or any website displayed as an advertisement or plug in a children’s websites is required to comply with COPPA.

A common question a client might ask is ‘when do I have actual knowledge of someone’s age?’ COPPA does not define the term ‘actual knowledge’ but according to the Federal Trade Commission, operators have ‘actual knowledge’ when a website asks and receives information from the user that states their age. This could be a direct question i.e. ‘What is your age?’ or ‘Date of Birth’. It also includes questions that ask users about their position in school, such as grade or type of school they attend (elementary, middle, high school, college etc.).

COPPA requires operators to post their privacy policies by providing clearly labeled links to such documents. Operators should also state what they intend to do with the information obtained and, most importantly, receive consent from the parent(s)/guardian before the child submits his or her information. To avoid any trouble, these consent forms should be made available to parent(s)/guardian in various forms i.e. electronic, mail, fax, etc. Operators could also dive into security checks of parents by checking government issued identifications. These records should be deleted immediately. Lastly, confidentiality and privacy of the children’s information is a very important part of this process. Once the website does not need the information submitted by the user, it is in their best interest to delete any extra information right away.


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