The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on a proposed safe harbor program that the kidSAFE Seal Program has submitted for Commission approval under the agency’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.
The Rule includes a “safe harbor” provision designed to encourage increased industry self-regulation in this area. Under this provision, industry groups and others may ask the Commission to approve self-regulatory guidelines that implement the protections of the Rule. Companies that comply with the FTC-approved guidelines receive safe harbor from agency enforcement action under the Rule.
The FTC’s COPPA Rule requires that operators of commercial websites and online services directed to children under the age of 13, or general audience websites and online services that knowingly collect personal information from children under 13, must post comprehensive privacy policies on their sites, notify parents about their information practices, and obtain parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing any personal information.
Since the Rule took effect on April 21, 2000, five groups – Aristotle, Inc., the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, TrustE, and PRIVO – have received Commission approval for their safe harbor programs.
In its public comment about the kidSAFE program, the Commission will consider whether the proposed program provides “the same or greater protections for children” as those contained in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.
It will also evaluate whether the mechanisms used to assess operators’ compliance are effective. The effectiveness incentives for operators’ compliance with the guidelines will be assessed in addition along with whether the program provides adequate means for resolving consumer complaints.
The comment period will last for 30 days, until Oct. 18, 2013.
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