CDD asks Court to Require FTC Make Public Information on “Safe Harbor” Programs for COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)
By: Staff | May 26 2015
The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), in its ongoing efforts to monitor the Federal Trade Commission’s enforcement of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), has filed a motion in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia challenging the FTC’s refusal to release important COPPA documentation. The case involves seven “safe harbor” programs, such as KidSAFE and TRUSTe, approved by the FTC to handle website compliance with COPPA regulations. CDD originally made its request in July 2014, under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking access to annual reports filed with the FTC by safe harbor organizations, as required by COPPA. In light of the commission’s failure to respond to that request within FOIA’s statutory time limit, CDD initiated the current legal proceeding in December 2014. Two months later, the FTC finally responded to CDD’s FOIA request, releasing heavily redacted annual reports amounting to less than half of CDD’s original request.As CDD’s court filing makes clear, the FTC has been overzealous in protecting the self-interest of the private Safe Harbor programs.
CDD’s predecessor, the Center for Media Education, spearheaded the movement that led to the passage of COPPA in 1998. The regulation applies primarily to commercial websites that target children under 13, limiting the collection of personal information, providing a mechanism for parental involvement, and placing obligations on companies for adequate disclosure and protection of data. More recently, CDD led a coalition of child advocates, privacy groups, and health experts that successfully pressed for a revised set of regulations that update and clarify COPPA’s basic safeguards. These new regulations, which became effective in 2013, add new protections specifically designed to address a wide range practices on social media, mobile, and other platforms. Without the diligent oversight of the FTC, however, COPPA regulations will mean little in the rapidly evolving online marketplace. As it awaits a favorable ruling from the District Court, CDD remains committed to ensuring that COPPA is fully and fairly enforced.
See the filed memo attached below.