The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on a proposed safe harbor program that the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeep Safe) has submitted for Commission approval under the agency’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.
The FTC’s COPPA Rule includes a “safe harbor” provision designed to encourage increased industry self-regulation in this area. Under this provision, industry groups and others may ask the Commission to approve self-regulatory guidelines that implement the protections of the Rule. Companies that comply with the FTC-approved guidelines receive safe harbor from agency enforcement action under the Rule.
The 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, six groups – Aristotle Inc., the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, TrustE, PRIVO, and KidSAFE – 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 iKeepSafe program; whether the proposed program provides “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 program provides adequate means for resolving consumer complaints. The comment period will last for 30 days, until April 21, 2014.
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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