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The Federal Trade Commission will hold a public workshop on July 20, 1999, to explore appropriate methods to obtain parental consent in conjunction with the FTC's rulemaking on the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. COPPA, with certain exceptions, requires that web sites obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children. On April 20, 1999, the Commission published a Federal Register Notice seeking public comment on its proposed regulations under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1999. The proposed rule states that "[a]n operator must make reasonable efforts to obtain verifiable parental consent, taking into consideration available technology. Any method to obtain verifiable parental consent must be reasonably calculated, in light of available technology, to ensure that the person providing consent is the child's parent."

The deadline for submission of comments for the proposed rule was June 11, 1999. An initial review of the more than 120 comments indicated to the agency that the issue of how websites can obtain "verifiable parental consent" warrants additional discussion and information gathering. According to the FTC, the comments suggest that businesses are looking to the Commission to provide guidance regarding this provision of the proposed rule.

The workshop agenda -- outlined in a Notice which will be published soon in the Federal Register -- is divided into three sessions. The first session will invite discussion of web sites' actual experiences with regard to obtaining "verifiable parental consent." The second session will explore the availability and adequacy of e-mail based mechanisms designed to provide verifiable parental consent. The third session will examine other technologies and services that are available or under development that could implement the verifiable parental consent requirement.

Particular focus will be on the potential role of newly emerging "infomediaries," businesses that serve as the consumer's anonymous alter ego in the information marketplace. The emphasis during these sessions will be to obtain a full discussion of the costs and effectiveness of various mechanisms, particularly as they affect small businesses.

Parties that wish to participate in the workshop should submit their request to the Secretary of the FTC no later than July 6. (See Federal Register Notice for details.)

The Commission vote to publish the Federal Register Notice was 4-0.

Copies of the Federal Register Notice are available from the FTC's web site at and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); 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. 994504)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Victoria Streitfeld,
Office of Public Affairs
Staff Contact:
Lee Peeler,
Bureau of Consumer Protection