On April 27, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission issued two warning letters to foreign marketers of geolocation tracking devices for violations of the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). The first letter was directed to a Chinese company, Gator Group, Ltd., that sold the “Kids GPS Gator Watch” (marketed as a child’s first cellphone); the second was sent to a Swedish company, Tinitell, Inc., marketing a child-based app that works with a mobile phone worn like a watch. Both products collect a child’s precise geolocation data, and the Gator Watch includes geofencing “safe zones.”   Continue Reading FTC Issues Warning Letters for Potential COPPA Violations

On March 6, 2018, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership (“CIPL”) at Hunton & Williams LLP issued a white paper on GDPR Implementation in Respect of Children’s Data and Consent (the “White Paper”). The White Paper sets forth guidance and recommendations concerning the application of GDPR requirements to the processing of children’s personal data. The White Paper also highlights and addresses several issues raised by the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) with regard to children in its guidelines on consent and issues raised by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office in its Consultation on Children and the GDPR. Continue Reading CIPL Issues White Paper on GDPR Implementation in Respect of Children’s Data and Consent

On February 5, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced its most recent Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) case against Explore Talent, an online service marketed to aspiring actors and models. According to the FTC’s complaint, Explore Talent provided a free platform for consumers to find information about upcoming auditions, casting calls and other opportunities. The company also offered a monthly fee-based “pro” service that promised to provide consumers with access to specific opportunities. Users who registered online were asked to input a host of personal information including full name, email, telephone number, mailing address and photo; they also were asked to provide their eye color, hair color, body type, measurements, gender, ethnicity, age range and birth date. Continue Reading FTC Brings Its Thirtieth COPPA Case, Against Online Talent Agency

On January 8, 2018, the FTC announced an agreement with electronic toy manufacturer, VTech Electronics Limited and its U.S. subsidiary, settling charges that VTech violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by collecting personal information from hundreds of thousands of children without providing direct notice or obtaining their parent’s consent, and failing to take reasonable steps to secure the data it collected. Under the agreement, VTech will (1) pay a $650,000 civil penalty; (2) implement a comprehensive data security program, subject to independent audits for 20 years; and (3) comply with COPPA. This is the FTC’s first COPPA case involving connected toys and the Internet of Things.

Recently, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (“OPC”) issued its 2017 Global Privacy Enforcement Network Sweep results (the “Report”), which focused on certain privacy practices of online educational tools and services targeted at classrooms. The OPC examined the privacy practices of two dozen educational websites and apps used by K-12 students. The “sweep” sought to replicate the consumer experience by interacting with the websites and apps, and recording the privacy practices and controls in place. The overarching theme of the Report is “user controls over personal information,” which the OPC further refined into four subthemes: (1) transparency, (2) consent, (3) age-appropriate collection and disclosure, and (4) deletion of personal information. Continue Reading Canadian Privacy Commissioner Issues Report on Children’s Educational Apps

On October 23, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission issued a policy enforcement statement providing additional guidance on the applicability of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA Rule”) to the collection of children’s audio voice recordings. The FTC previously updated the COPPA Rule in 2013, adding voice recordings to the definition of personal information, which led to questions about how the COPPA Rule would be enforced against organizations who collect a child’s voice recording for the sole purpose of issuing a command or request.

Continue Reading FTC Issues Policy Statement on COPPA and Voice Recordings

On October 4, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Education (“DOE”) announced that they will co-host a workshop to explore privacy issues related to education technology. The Ed Tech Workshop, which will take place on December 1, 2017 in Washington, D.C., will examine how the FTC’s Rule implementing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) applies to schools and intersects with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), which is administered by the DOE.

Continue Reading FTC and DOE to Host Workshop on Privacy Issues Related to Education Technology

On June 21, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission updated its guidance, Six-Step Compliance Plan for Your Business, for complying with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). The FTC enforces the COPPA Rule, which sets requirements regarding children’s privacy and safety online. The updated guidance adds new information on situations where COPPA applies and steps to take for compliance. Continue Reading FTC Releases Guidance on COPPA Compliance

On April 19, 2017, the FTC announced that it is seeking public comment on proposed changes to TRUSTe, Inc.’s safe harbor program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (the “Proposed Changes”). As we previously reported, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that TRUSTe agreed to settle allegations that it failed to properly verify that customer websites aimed at children did not run third-party software to track users. The Proposed Changes are a result of the settlement agreement between TRUSTe and the New York Attorney General. Continue Reading FTC Seeks Comment on Proposed Changes to TRUSTe’s COPPA Safe Harbor Program