COPPA Update: Schools Must Ensure Consent Methods Are Up-To-Date

picture of school room to accompany post about COPPA school updates

The FTC released another Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) update. The new clarification deals with schools and schools alone. So, if you’re not a school administrator or parent of a school-aged child, then you can rest easy. Website operators should, however, be aware of the change for administrative purposes.

COPPA In 20 Seconds

Passed in 1998 and effective starting in 2000, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is one of the few federal online privacy laws. It requires that websites obtain parental consent before collecting identifying information from minors aged 13 and younger.

You can read more about COPPA, here, here and here.

What happens if you’re caught violating COPPA regulations? Very hefty fines. Massive.

What Is The Latest COPPA Change?

Specifically, the FTC updated Section M of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act entitled ‘COPPA and Schools.’ The amendments clarified two main points.

  1. The responsibility for granting COPPA consent for students should be handled at the school administrative level, not by individual teachers.
  2. Schools should make available, on their respective websites, a list of software programs used at the school district. This way, parents can review the information and make any objections (for their children) directly to the administration.

In a memo announcing the COPPA update, the FTC reminded that although schools can consent on behalf of parents for school-related software, parents still have rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Criticism Of The April 2014 School COPPA Updates

Executive Director of The App Association,  Morgan Reed, isn’t convinced that the latest COPPA update is going to help or change much. Reed explained:

“School administrators often are provided few details about how online service providers handle data collected on children, and recent court cases reveal that some companies use information from the classroom to target advertising to children. Parents … should get to decide whether their child’s data should be commoditized by schools to benefit advertisers.”

Contact A COPPA Lawyer Today

Do you have a website used by kids aged 13 and younger? Even if it was not your intent to attract a young audience, if children use your website, you MUST comply with COPPA standards. To speak with an attorney extremely well-versed in COPPA (and other online privacy issues), get in touch with Kelly / Warner today. Our track record is great and we’ve helped many, many other people with their COPPA issues. We can make sure you’re squared away too.

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