The Federal Trade Commission today announced that Aristotle International, Inc. has been approved as a "safe harbor" program under the terms of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). COPPA's "safe harbor" provision is designed to provide flexibility and promote efficiency in complying with the Act by encouraging industry members or groups to develop their own COPPA oversight programs. Operators that participate in a COPPA safe harbor program will, in most circumstances, be subject to the review and disciplinary procedures provided in the safe harbor's guidelines in lieu of formal FTC investigation and law enforcement.
The FTC's COPPA Rule requires that operators of commercial websites and online services directed to children under the age of 13, or general-audience websites and online services that knowingly collect personal information from children under 13, must post comprehensive privacy policies on their sites, notify parents about their information practices, and obtain parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing any personal information from children under the age of 13. COPPA also directed the Commission to review and approve self-regulatory program guidelines that would serve as safe harbors.
To be approved by the FTC, proposed safe harbor guidelines must fulfill three criteria: (1 provide the same or greater protections for children as those contained in the Rule; (2 set forth effective, mandatory mechanisms for the independent assessment of members' compliance; and (3 provide effective incentives for members' compliance. Aristotle's safe harbor application was published in a Federal Register notice on June 27, 2011, and the FTC sought public comment through August 15, 2011.
The Commission vote to approve the Aristotle safe harbor application was 4-0.
Copies of the final Aristotle application are available on 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.
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