CDD petitions FTC to release COPPA Safe Harbor reports to the public

By: Staff | Jul 14 2015

The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), through its counsel, requests the following documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, related to enforcement of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), 15 U.S.C. § 6501 et seq.

  • All annual reports submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by COPPA safe harbor programs for the reporting period of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 as required by the COPPA Rule, 16 C.F.R. § 312.11(d)(1), including, for illustrative purposes, reports from the following safe harbor programs:
  1. Aristotle International Inc.
  2. Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU)
  3. Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
  4. iKeepSafe
  5. kidSafe Seal Program (kidSAFE)
  6. Privacy Vaults Online (PRIVO)
  7. True Ultimate Standards Everywhere (TRUSTe)

CDD asks that if any of the requested records are stored electronically that the FTC provide the requested records to CDD in their native electronic format as required under FOIA. 5 U.S.C. § 552(f)(2). 

Request for Fee Waiver or News Media Fee Benefit

CDD asks the FTC to waive all fees associated with this request because disclosure of the records is in the public interest or, alternatively, to limit any fees charged to CDD to reasonable duplication fees because it is a noncommercial request by a member of the news media. 5 U.S.C. §§ 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II), 552(a)(4)(A)(iii). 

CDD is entitled to a waiver of all fees associated with this request under FOIA’s public interest standard and relevant FTC regulations. 16 C.F.R. § 4.8(e). The regulations permit the FTC to waive all fees associated with a particular request when a requester demonstrates that (1) “disclosure will likely contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government” and (2) “that the request not be primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” 16 C.F.R. §§ 4.8(e)(2)(i)-(ii). 

CDD’s request qualifies under both prongs of the FTC’s public interest fee waiver standard. First, disclosure of the annual reports provided to the FTC by COPPA safe harbor providers and any related correspondence will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of the FTC’s oversight of private entities tasked with enforcing federal law. COPPA was designed to protect children’s privacy online, an issue of significant public importance that concerns parents, consumers, lawmakers, and the general public. The instant request concerns data on how actively private safe harbor providers are policing COPPA compliance by their members. Relatedly, the records will also disclose whether and how the FTC performs its oversight role with respect to the safe harbor programs.1 From the reports, the public can scrutinize both the safe harbors’ performance and the FTC’s actions in administering the safe harbor program under COPPA. Because CDD intends to publish the requested documents, the public at large will benefit from better understanding whether and how the FTC is protecting children’s privacy online. 

Full complaint attached.

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