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The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and Rule (COPPA) is a federal law that places parents and legal guardians in control over the collection, use and disclosure of their children’s personal information (PI). COPPA applies to Operators of a commercial website or online service (including apps) directed to children under the age of 13 that collects, uses or discloses PI from children, or Operators of a general audience website or online service who know they collect, use or disclose personal information from children under 13.
Under COPPA, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is tasked with issuing regulations for the implementation of the law. The FTC, and to a lesser degree, other federal and state agencies, enforce COPPA compliance. Violating COPPA can lead to significant financial and administrative liability. Violators can incur civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation, be ordered to delete all information collected in violation of COPPA, and become subject to record-keeping, reporting, and/or monitoring requirements by the FTC for years. Civil penalties against a COPPA violator have been as high as $3,000,000.
In addition to the financial burdens potentially imposed by COPPA enforcement actions, reputational harm for a COPPA violation might be the most costly consequence. The online privacy of children is a hot-button issue, and the public is very sensitive to the improper use or disclosure of a child’s information. The financial penalties and reputational harm of a COPPA violation make it incumbent upon website operators to pay close attention to their online data collection activities.
View the full article in Lexis Practice Advisor or on the Lexis Practice Advisor Journal Website for a complete discussion of how to determine whether COPPA applies to your client, and if so, how to collect, use, and disclose the PI of children in compliance with the requirements of COPPA and the FTC.