The COPPA Rule went into effect in 1998 when Congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), mandates that Web sites serving children under the age of 13 protect children’s privacy, particularly in terms of their personal information (name, address, email, etc.).
Because sites may simply ban users under 13 rather than attempting the more complicated task of coming into compliance with COPPA, some believe that the Rule has had the unintended consequence of making large portions of the Web inaccessible to younger children.
Despite many criticisms centered on children’s online freedom, a set of changes to the Rule will take effect in July 2013. These changes attempt to address recent technology developments including the growing use of social networks and mobile devices.
The COPPA amendments include:
What does this mean for schools?
To maintain COPPA compliance, a school should be careful to understand how a Web site will collect, use and disclose personal information from students before deciding whether to use that particular online technology. Among the questions that a school should ask are:
See the FTC site for answers to additional school-related FAQs.