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Fans of Tiny Pets, Tiny Zoo, Tiny Village, Tiny Monsters, and Mermaid Resort will be relieved to know that adorable Sully the Dog and arch-nemesis Duke Spendington haven’t been named in their individual capacities. But the developer of those kid-directed apps – San-Francisco-based TinyCo, Inc. – just settled an FTC lawsuit alleging the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule.

If you have children under 13, do you know about COPPA — the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act? Websites and services covered by COPPA must get your consent before they collect personal information from your child, and they must honor your choices about how that information is used.

That’s why Yelp — the online review service — is getting less than five stars from the FTC.

COPPA logo

When we started posting the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule FAQs, we told you we’d update them periodically – and we’re doing our best to make good on that promise.
In a lot of schools, kids are more likely to be looking at screens than at blackboards.  One advantage:  fewer annoying chalk squeaks.  Of course, the benefits of the connected classroom go far beyond that.  But educators, administrators, and parents have been asking an important question:  How do the protections of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the accompanying FTC rule apply in the school setting?
We got an interesting suggestion recently.  “With how fast technology changes, how about building in a process so companies can see if newer methods meet the requirements of existing rules?”  A related recommendation:  Crowdsourcing.  “The FTC could publicize an idea and get feedback from people.”  We’re fans of innovation, too, which is why the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule includes a procedure for companies to ask if methods of getting parental consent not listed in COPPA nonetheless meet the Rule’s standards.&
Rerun watchers will remember “Welcome Back, Kotter,” a schoolroom sitcom featuring a hummable theme by folk rocker John Sebastian and a cast of smart-alecky students.  The character of Juan Epstein was famous for forging excuse notes and permission slips and claiming they were from his mother.  What tipped off Mr. Kotter was that the letters always ended with “Signed, Juan Epstein’s Mother.”  OK, it’s a stretch, but there’s a connection between that 70s sitcom and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.
If you’re the COPPA cop for your company or clients, you know that Complying with COPPA: Frequently Asked Questions (A Guide For Business And Parents And Small Entity Compliance Guide) – close friends call ‘em The FAQs – are an indispensable resource.  When FTC staff revised the FAQs a few months ago to reflect changes to COPPA that took effect July 1, 2013, we promised to update them as questions arose.  And we’re making good on that promise.

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