Welcome back, COPPA

Rerun watchers will remember “Welcome Back, Kotter,” a schoolroom sitcom featuring a hummable theme by folk rocker John Sebastian and a cast of smart-alecky students.  The character of Juan Epstein was famous for forging excuse notes and permission slips and claiming they were from his mother.  What tipped off Mr. Kotter was that the letters always ended with “Signed, Juan Epstein’s Mother.”  OK, it’s a stretch, but there’s a connection between that 70s sitcom and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.

And here it is:  Just how do you get verifiable parental consent?  That’s what COPPA requires before companies collect personal information online from kids under 13.  The COPPA Rule lays out a number of acceptable methods, but also includes a provision so people can submit suggested new methods for FTC approval.

AssertID, Inc., has done just that and the FTC wants your feedback on the proposal.  Specifically, the FTC is asking whether AssertID’s method meets the Rule’s requirement that the method must be reasonably calculated to ensure that the person providing the consent is actually the child’s parent — in other words, is it really Juan Epstein’s Mother? — and whether it poses a risk to consumers’ personal information.

Take a look at AssertID's proposal and let us know what you think.  The deadline for comments is September 20, 2013.

Looking for COPPA how-to resources?  A good place to start is Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule: A Six-Step Compliance Plan for Your Business. To dig deeper, read the COPPA FAQs.



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