The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on the provisions of a safe harbor program that Privo, Inc. (“Privo”) submitted for Commission approval pursuant to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“Rule”).
The Rule includes a “safe harbor” provision designed to encourage increased industry self-regulation in this area. Under this provision, industry groups and others may request Commission approval of self-regulatory guidelines that would govern participants’ compliance with the Rule. Web site operators in Commission-approved programs would first be subject to the disciplinary procedures of the safe harbor program in lieu of FTC enforcement.
The COPPA Rule applies to operators of commercial Web sites and online services directed to children under the age of 13, and to general audience Web sites and online services that knowingly collect personal information from children under 13. Among other things, the Rule requires that Web site operators post comprehensive privacy policies on their sites, notify parents about their information practices, and obtain parental consent before collecting any personal information from children under the age of 13. Since the Rule took effect on April 21, 2000, three groups – the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, and TrustE – have received Commission approval for their safe harbor programs.
In a Federal Register Notice to be published shortly, the FTC is seeking public comment about the proposed Privo guidelines; whether the proposed guidelines provide “the same or greater protections for children” as those contained in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule; whether the mechanisms used to assess operators’ compliance are effective; whether incentives for operators’ compliance with the guidelines are effective; and whether the guidelines provide adequate means for resolving consumer complaints. The comment period will last for 30
days. Privo’s safe harbor application and the public comments received will be posted on the FTC’s Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/safeharbor/shp.htm.
Note: Publication of this Federal Register Notice does not indicate Commission approval of the safe harbor application. The Commission has 180 days to review proposed self-regulatory guidelines and must set forth its conclusions in writing.
The Commission vote to publish the Federal Register Notice was 5-0.
Copies of the Federal Register Notice are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad
(FTC File No. P044506)