The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has updated the official rules governing compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that are now in effect as of today. The Aristotle’s Integrity, a designated FTC “Safe Harbor” program encourages site operators and others who have not yet implemented the necessary changes, to protect themselves with an FTC-approved parental consent method, to avoid fines.
The new “Rule” specifies how sites catering to children must handle personal information, and obtain parental consent when doing so. The FTC clarified that sites may not target behavioral ads to those under 13 without parental consent as part of site’s “internal operations”. The net effect of this will be to increase the value to sites choosing to employ an FTC-approved Safe Harbor Program such as Integrity that provides the robust parental consent procedures necessary to target such ads.
“We applaud the FTC for their efforts to educate site operators on the new rule,” said Aristotle CEO John Aristotle Phillips. “Respecting online privacy can be complicated, especially as it applies to children. But the basics are straightforward – you need to ask the parent for permission. Integrity™ offers sites and third-party operators a complete solution for obtaining parental consent. As a parent myself, I am grateful the FTC is providing clarity for marketers and social networking sites on this point.”
There are now 13 FTC-approved, commercially reasonable methods offered by Aristotle’s Integrity™ for businesses, non-profits and government agencies that want to build their brands with kids but understand the need to first obtain the consent of the parent,” Phillips added. “These are inexpensive and seamless and have the added benefit of having been designated a Safe Harbor by unanimous vote of the FTC Commissioners.”
In February of 2012, the FTC’s Republican and Democratic Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve The Integrity Children’s Privacy Compliance Program, developed by Aristotle , designating it as a “Safe Harbor” program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Employing new technologies and methods, Aristotle’s was the first such Safe Harbor approved by the FTC in more than five years. Aristotle offers the widest assortment and most technically advanced offerings for businesses to meet the “Prior Parental Verification” standard now required for targeting behavioral advertising to children.
Under the FTC’s new COPPA Rule, it is required that operators of websites and online services directed to children under the age of 13, and those who knowingly collect personal information from such children, must post 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. COPPA’s “safe harbor” provision allows industry members and groups the freedom to employ an FTC-approved COPPA oversight program to reduce or eliminate the need for formal FTC investigation and law enforcement.
Aristotle’s Integrity integrates modern technology into the parental verification process. The 13 online and offline mechanisms include real-time face-to-face verification of parents via Skype or similar videoconferencing technologies. It gives the parents the authority to say, “I am the adult responsible for this child and you may include him or her in this activity.” If a parent says “no”, the child may not participate. Where the provider is an online business, the FTC-approved safe harbor program is insurance against legal exposure and brand risk.
To earn safe harbor approval, the Integrity program had to fulfill three criteria:
- Provide the same or greater protections for children as those contained in the Rule
- Set forth effective, mandatory mechanisms for the independent assessment of Members’ compliance
- Provide effective incentives for Members’ compliance.
Aristotle’s safe harbor application was published in a Federal Register notice June 27, 2011, after which the FTC sought public comment through August 15, 2011. The Commission unanimously voted to approve the Aristotle safe harbor application, and the Program has now been updated to comply with the new Rule going into effect today.
Aristotle has delivered smarter tools to political campaigns since 1983. Every U.S. President — Democrat and Republican — from Reagan through Obama, has used Aristotle products and/or services, as have many U.S. Senators, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic and Republican state party organizations and other major campaigns worldwide.
Integrity services more countries and have greater depth of information worldwide than any other provider with over 135 countries and 3.4 billion records internationally. Changes in country demographics make this important and companies find global coverage is essential in modern borderless internet economies.