The Federal Trade Commission has focused some of its recent public statements on technology issues and related enforcement challenges. In this blog post, I provide a recap of those statements, including one before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection.
The FTC staff recently sent two warning letters to Gator Group Co., Ltd., and Tinitell, Inc., which marketed mobile apps directed to children and appear to be violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The FTC warning letters were also sent to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, which make the apps available to consumers.
On Friday, December 1, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Education hosted a workshop examining student privacy in the burgeoning field of “EdTech.” Both agencies regulate certain educational technology aimed at K-12 students. However, FTC rules implementing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) are not identical to ED regulations implementing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”). To better understand how both rules interact in practice, the agencies solicited public comment and convened panels of experts and stakeholders – including vendors, schools, parents, and regulators.
The workshop explored several key issues, including when a school may provide consent on behalf of participating students; how record retention (and deletion) should be noticed and executed; and what limits to impose on vendors collecting personal student information. In closing, both agencies expressed a desire to provide clear, workable regulatory oversight while meaningfully protecting student privacy.
The Federal Trade Commission provided additional guidance on how the Children’s Online Privacy Protection (COPPA) Rule, 16 C.F.R. Part 312, applies to the practice of collecting audio files that contain a child’s voice, immediately converting the audio to text, and deleting the files containing the voice recording triggers COPPA’s requirements.
The FTC guidance provides that it will not take enforcement action against operators who collect audio files without first obtaining verifiable parental consent in situations where the child’s voice is being used solely as a replacement for written words, such as to convert voice to text in order to perform a search and other function on internet-connected devices.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will co-host a live workshop on December 1, 2017 highlighting two intersecting regulatory regimes: the FTC’s rules implementing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which applies to K-12 schools and to children under the age of 13, and the simultaneous application of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which also applies to schools and is administered by ED.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has updated its guidance applicable to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to reflect developments in the digital advertising ecosystem and a burgeoning Internet of Things marketplace. The Guidance revises its six-step compliance plan to keep current with developing technology.
The Guidance, which had existed in substantially the same form since 2015, contains three new updates relating to new methods for obtaining parental consent, new products covered by COPPA, and new business models.