On May 6, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) voted unanimously to retain the July 1, 2013 date for implementation of the updated Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”). The FTC vote took place approximately two weeks after online industry and business organizations, including the Direct Marketing Association (“DMA”) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to the FTC seeking an extension of the effective date for the COPPA Rule amendments, from July 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014.
In voting to retain the original date for implementation of the updated Rule, the Commission noted that the July 1 implementation date, along with the rule changes, were announced in December 2012, which provided affected companies with more than six month to prepare for the updated Rule. The FTC also noted various meetings and consultations it has held during the past several months with organizations and individual businesses to discuss how companies can ensure compliance with the amended Rule. In addition, the FTC noted the recent release of its updated COPPA Rule Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) document that includes a number of questions (and answers) that directly address how the amended Rule differs from the original Rule, including the following:
• What should I do about information I collected from children prior to the effective date that was not considered personal under the original Rule but now is considered personal information under the amended Rule?
• Other than the changes to the definition of personal information, in what ways is the new Rule different?
• Will the amended COPPA Rule prevent children from lying about their age to register for general audience sites or online services whose terms of service prohibit their participation?
Notably, the online industry had cited the lack of an updated FAQs document a key reason for its request to extend the implementation date to January 2014.