[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

The Federal Trade Commission adopted final amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, that strengthen kids’ privacy protections and give parents greater control over the personal information that websites and online services may collect from children under 13.

The final amendments:

— modify the list of “personal information” that cannot be collected without parental notice and consent, clarifying that this category includes geolocation information, photographs, and videos;

— offer companies a streamlined, voluntary and transparent approval process for new ways of getting parental consent;

— close a loophole that allowed kid-directed apps and websites to permit third parties to collect personal information from children through plug-ins without parental notice and consent;

— extend coverage in some of those cases so that the third parties doing the additional collection also have to comply with COPPA;

— extend the COPPA Rule to cover persistent identifiers that can recognize users over time and across different websites or online services, such as IP addresses and mobile device IDs;

— strengthen data security protections by requiring that covered website operators and online service providers take reasonable steps to release children’s personal information only to companies that are capable of keeping it secure and confidential;

— require that covered website operators adopt reasonable procedures for data retention and deletion; and

— strengthen the FTC’s oversight of self-regulatory safe harbor programs.

The COPPA Rule was mandated when Congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. It requires that operators of websites or online services that are either directed to children under 13 or have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information from children under 13 give notice to parents and get their verifiable consent before collecting, using, or disclosing such personal information, and keep secure the information they collect from children.

The rule also prohibits them from conditioning children’s participation in activities on the collection of more personal information than is reasonably necessary for them to participate. The Rule contains a “safe harbor” provision that allows industry groups or others to seek FTC approval of self-regulatory guidelines.