FTC Seeks Public Comment on First Children's Online Privacy "Safe Harbor" Application

For Release

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on the provisions of a plan by PrivacyBot.com to issue a "seal of approval" indicating that Internet websites that comply with its provisions meet the requirements of the FTC's Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule.

In October 1999, the FTC issued a rule requiring children's website operators to post comprehensive privacy policies on their sites, notify parents about their information practices, and obtain parental consent before collecting any personal information from children under the age of 13. The rule, which goes into effect on April 21, 2000, was issued in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, passed by Congress in 1998. The Act also directed the Commission to review and approve guidelines that would serve as "safe harbors" - industry self-regulatory guidelines that would, if adhered to, comply with the Act - within 180 days of the application. The PrivacyBot.com safe harbor application is the first the FTC has received under the Rule.

In a Federal Register Notice to be published shortly, the FTC is seeking public comment about the proposed PrivacyBot.com guidelines; whether the proposed guidelines provide "the same or greater protections for children" as those contained in the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule; whether the mechanisms used to assess operators' compliance are effective; whether incentives for operators' compliance with the guidelines are effective; and whether the guidelines provide adequate means for resolving consumer complaints. The comment period will last for 30 days.

NOTE: Publication of this Federal Register Notice does not indicate Commission approval of the safe harbor application. The Commission has 180 days to review proposed self-regulatory guidelines and must set forth its conclusions in writing.

Copies of the Federal Register Notice and the safe harbor application are available from the FTC's website at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; toll free at 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.

(FTC File No. P00 4504)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Claudia Bourne Farrell,
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2181
Staff Contact:
Loren G. Thompson,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2049