By Katie W. Johnson
Feb. 12 --The Federal Trade Commission Feb. 12 announced that it has approved the kidSAFE Seal Program as a new safe harbor
program under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule.
is the first new safe harbor program under the amended version of the rule, FTC
spokeswoman Cheryl Warner told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 12.
The FTC's final
amendments to the rule implementing the Children's Online Privacy
Protection Act took effect in July 2013 . The COPPA Rule imposes parental
notice and consent requirements on websites and online services that collect
personal information from children younger than 13.
The rule includes a
safe harbor provision that allows industry members to develop their own
self-regulatory guidelines that implement the rule's protections. “Website
operators that participate in a COPPA safe harbor program will, in most
circumstances, be subject to the review and disciplinary procedures provided in
the safe harbor's guidelines in lieu of formal FTC investigation and law
enforcement,” the commission explained in a Feb. 12 statement.
other groups have received the FTC's stamp of approval for their safe harbor
programs: the Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better
Business Bureaus, the Entertainment Software Rating Board , TRUSTe, Privo Inc.
and Aristotle International Inc.
The FTC first sought public input on Los Angeles-based Samet Privacy LLC's
application for approval of its kidSAFE Seal Program in September 2013 . The
commission later extended the comment period as a result of the partial
government shutdown in fall 2013 .
On its website, the company describes
the kidSAFE Seal Program as “a new, fast-growing 'seal of approval' program
that independently reviews and certifies the safety practices of
children-friendly websites and technologies, including kid-targeted game sites,
educational sites, virtual worlds, social networks, mobile apps, tablet
devices, and other similar online and interactive products.” When a product
meets the kidSAFE core safety rules and its additional rules based on COPPA, it
may display a “kidSAFE+ COPPA Certified” seal on its website.
letter to Shai Samet, the program's founder and president, the FTC said the
commission determined that the kidSAFE self-regulatory guidelines contain three
necessary components: “substantially similar requirements that provide the same
or greater protections for children as those contained in the Rule”; “an
effective, mandatory mechanism for the independent assessment of the safe
harbor program participants' compliance with the guidelines”; and disciplinary
actions following noncompliance by participants.
The FTC said that it
received 11 comments on the application, eight of which supported approval of
the program. The other three comments raised concerns with the program, such as
the potential for consumers to be confused with multiple kidSAFE
self-regulatory programs and the program's ability to address member
compliance. The commission said kidSAFE agreed to address these concerns by
modifying its seal and redesigning its mechanism for consumer complaints.
“This program will help expand the implementation of the recently amended
COPPA Rule, and we look forward to working with kidSAFE and the other safe
harbor programs to provide important protections for children's online
privacy,” the FTC said.
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Katie W. Johnson in Washington at email@example.com
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Full text of the FTC's approval letter is available at http://op.bna.com/pl.nsf/r?Open=kjon-9g9prs
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