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On March 29, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission announced its decision to deny, without prejudice, an application from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (“ESRB”), Yoti and Kids Web Services for approval of a “Privacy-Protective Facial Age Estimation” mechanism for obtaining parental consent under the FTC’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA Rule”).

The groups had initially submitted their application in June of 2023 pursuant to part 312.12 of the COPPA Rule, which permits parties to seek Commission approval for new parental consent mechanisms not currently set forth in the COPPA Rule. According to the FTC’s press release announcing its decision, the agency received 350 comments in connection with the groups’ submission. On March 20, 2024, the groups asked the FTC to stay its decision pending a forthcoming report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) evaluating Yoti’s facial age estimation model. The FTC indicated its expectation that the NIST report will materially assist the FTC, and the public, in better understanding age verification technologies and the group’s application. Rather than stay the application, however, the FTC declined it without prejudice to the applicants refiling in the future.