The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on a proposed safe harbor program that Aristotle International, Inc. has submitted for Commission approval under the agency’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.
The Rule includes a “safe harbor” provision designed to encourage increased industry self-regulation in this area. Under this provision, industry groups and others may request Commission approval of self-regulatory guidelines that implement the protections of the Rule. Companies in compliance with the FTC-approved guidelines receive “safe harbor’ from agency enforcement action under the Rule.
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. Since the Rule took effect on April 21, 2000, four groups – the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, TrustE, and Privo – have received Commission approval for their safe harbor programs.
In a Federal Register notice to be published shortly, the FTC is seeking public comment about the proposed Aristotle 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 45 days, until August 8, 2011. Aristotle’s safe harbor application and the public comments received will be posted on the FTC’s Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/safeharbor/shp.htm.
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.
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