The Secure Times

An online forum of the ABA Section of Antitrust Law's Privacy and Information Security Committee

New Mobile App Marketed as Enhancing Children’s Mobile Privacy, Augmenting COPPA

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The roster of apps designed to protect privacy grew this week with the launch of Disconnect Kids, which bills itself as “[t]he first and only app that stops data about your browsing and app activity from ever leaving your iPhone or iPad.”  The company claims its new app protects children from unwanted tracking by actively blocking requests for their personal data, filtering the biggest mobile trackers, allowing users to block and unblock the 20 most prevalent companies that track browsing and app activity, and teaching about online tracking and targeting.  The app is offered on a “pay what you want basis.”  Disconnect, based in Palo Alto, and jointly founded in 2011 by a former Google/ Doubleclick engineer and a consumer- and privacy-rights advocate, says its software, including Disconnect 2, a web-based desktop app, is used by more than one million people each week. 

Disconnect’s motto is “Unwanted tracking is not cool.”  It says it aims to bolster the protections afforded by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission through a revised rule that went into effect on July 1, 2013.  The company notes that general audience third parties, e.g., plug-ins not geared specifically toward children, can collect personal data from another site without obtaining parental consent if the plug-in lacks actual knowledge it is doing so from a site directed to children under 13 years old. 

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Author: Janis Kestenbaum

Senior legal advisor on privacy, data security, and other consumer protection issues to Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez. All views expressed are my own.

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