How COPPA Affects Your Family - dummies

By Amy Lupold Bair

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal law passed in 2008, gives parents control over what information is collected about their children online. Websites geared towards children under 13 are required under COPPA to do the following:

  • Post a privacy policy that explains how they handle children’s personal information

  • Contact parents directly for verifiable consent before collecting children’s personal information

  • Allow parents to give permission for the collection of a child’s information, but not for the purpose of disclosing that information to a third party

  • Give parents access to their children’s personal information as well as the ability to edit this information

  • Allow parents to end further collection of children’s information

  • Securely maintain the information collected about the child users of the site

If your children are accessing a site geared toward kids 13 and younger, that site should comply with the COPPA rules. This affects your family by providing you, the parent, with a number of tools. You can utilize the tools by doing the following:

  • Locate the site’s privacy policy to understand what information the site will collect about your child as well as how they plan on using and protecting that information. Sites may contain a privacy section for kids as well. Consider reading this page with your children.

  • Utilize the parental access functions of the site in order to monitor your child’s use of the site as well as what personal information your child has shared. This parental access often also includes the ability to change the settings of your child’s account.

  • Decide whether to allow your child to have access to the site. All sites following COPPA regulations must receive verifiable consent from parents before allowing children to create user accounts. Watch for an e-mail to verify your child’s account before they are allowed to use that site.

  • Consider not allowing your children to use a site that clearly does not follow COPPA regulations including the absence of a clear privacy policy or a gateway to use that requires parental consent. These sites may be collecting your child’s personal information for the use of their advertisers without parental permission.