Are You Keeping Up with COPPA? The FTC Just Updated Its Compliance Plan for Businesses

On June 21, 2017, the FTC released its updated its 6 step COPPA Compliance Plan for Businesses (“Compliance Plan").   The changes to the Compliance Plan are intended to help businesses keep up with changes to technology and evolving business models in connection with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). The FTC states in its blog post  announcing the updated Compliance Plan that the changes fall into 3 categories: New business models/technologies: COPPA applies to websites and other “online services.” The FTC is making clear, if there was any doubt, that voice activated devices that collect information are “online services” subject to COPPA.

New products: The FTC has specifically highlighted connected toys and other IoT devices as being subject to COPPA.

New Methods for Obtaining Parental Consent: The FTC has added two recently approved methods for obtaining parental consent to its list: (1) having parents answer a series of knowledge-based questions that only a parent should be able to answer; and (2) using facial recognition technology and photographs submitted by the parent.

Key Takeaways: The FTC has not updated its rules but has clarified its position. Companies should be continuously aware of how the use of new technologies and the launch of new products could implicate COPPA -- and in an IoT world many products that previously would not have been an “online service” now likely are.