The recently approved Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) amendments come as welcome news to companies offering Federal Trade Commission (FTC)-approved, reasonable methods that allow businesses, non-profits and government agencies to build brands with kids, first ensuring they understand the necessity of parental consent. Aristotle International, Inc. is a company that offers a wide assortment of technically advanced methods which help businesses meet the “Prior Parental Verification” rule now required by COPPA.

In February of 2012, the FTC’s Republican and Democratic Commissioners voted to approve Aristotle’s Integrity Children’s Privacy Compliance Program and designated it as a “Safe Harbor” program under COPPA, making it the first Safe Harbor approved by the FTC in over five years.

COPPA’s Safe Harbor provision allows industry members and groups the freedom to employ an FTC-approved COPPA oversight program to reduce or eliminate the need for formal FTC investigation and law enforcement.

Businesses who employ Aristotle’s Integrity program will have access to its 13 online and offline methods for receiving parental consent, such as real-time face-to-face parental verification through Skype or other videoconferencing technology. Integrity’s mechanisms give parents the authority to state parental responsibility of their children, specifically approving or disapproving of a company’s personal information activity.

Company’s will have very clear knowledge of whether a parent says yes or know to its activity. If the parent says no to an activity, Integrity will not let the child participate. For online business providers, including mobile device and social networks operators, this FTC-approved Safe Harbor program serves as a kind of insurance against legal exposure and brand risk.

There are now more than a dozen FTC-approved, commercially reasonable methods offered by Aristotle for businesses, non-profits and government agencies that want to build their brands with kids but understand the need to first obtain the consent of the parent,” Phillips added. “These are inexpensive and seamless and have the added benefit of having been designated a Safe Harbor by unanimous vote of the FTC.”

The COPPA rule, which was modified this Wednesday,  requires operators of websites and services directly targeting children under the age of 13 to post privacy policies on sites, notify parents about the personal information practices and obtain parental consent. These online operators must follow these rules before using or disclosing any personal information from children. New COPPA rules, which go into effect July 1, 2013, extend to mobile devices and social networks, ensuring the FTC’s rule stays current with changing technologies.

“This is welcomed news for parents and for their kids, and much needed clarity for marketers and social networking sites,” said Aristotle CEO John Aristotle Phillips. “We applaud the FTC’s actions, and we are naturally pleased to be positioned to offer sites and third-party operators a complete solution for obtaining parental consent.”

For the Integrity program to earn Safe Harbor approval, it had to fulfill the following three criteria:

  1. Provide the same or greater protections for children as those contained in the Rule;
  2. Set forth effective, mandatory mechanisms for the independent assessment of Members’ compliance; and
  3. Provide effective incentives for Members’ compliance.

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