Children’S Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a U.S. federal law designed to limit the collection and use of personal information about children by the operators of Internet services and Web sites. Passed by the U.S. Congress in 1998, the law took effect in April 2000. It is administered and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). COPPA is “the first U.S. privacy law written for the Internet,” Melissa Campanelli wrote in Entrepreneur. “It was written specifically for Internet marketers that operate Web sites visited by children under the age of 13 and collect personal information from those kids. Its purpose is to regulate that collection.”
The FTC conducted a survey of 212 Web sites in 1998 and found that 89 percent of them collected personal information from children. Of those that collected data from children, 46 percent did not disclose this fact or explain how the information was used. The law was intended to address this potential problem by requiring Web sites and other online services directed toward children under the age of 13—as well as general audience sites that collect personal information from children—to obtain verifiable consent from the children’s parents. “Its stated purpose is to protect children from micro-targeting by advertisers and to minimize the potential for contact with dangerous individuals through chat rooms, e-mail, and bulletin boards by involving parents in kids’ online activities,” Monica Rogers explained in Crain’s Chicago Business.
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