This page is a brief introduction to and presents several links to information about the Children's On-line Privacy Protection Act, often called COPPA. Every Internet information server who potentially collects information from children should be aware of this act, its requirements, and the fact that violations of it's provisions can result in a fine of up to $11,000 per violation.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has in place a rule to implement the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). The main goal of the COPPA regulation is to protect the privacy of children using the Internet. Publication of the rule means that, as of April 21, 2000, certain commercial Web sites must obtain parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13.
COPPA requires that certain Internet sites must inform parents of their information practices, provide notice on the site and to parents about their policies with respect to the collection, use and disclosure of children's personal information.
The sites that COPPA applies to will also have to obtain "verifiable parental consent" before collecting, using or disclosing personal information from children.
A Web site operator must post a clear and prominent link to a notice of its information practices on its home page and at each area where personal information is collected from children. The notice must state the name and contact information of all operators, the types of personal information collected from children, how such personal information is used, and whether personal information is disclosed to third parties.
The notice also must state that the operator is prohibited from conditioning a child's participation in an activity on the child's disclosing more personal information than is reasonably necessary. In addition, the notice must state that the parent can review and have deleted the child's personal information, and refuse to permit further collection or use of the child's information.
There is a "sliding scale" approach that allows Web sites to vary their consent methods based on the intended uses of the child's information. For a two-year period, use of the more reliable methods of consent (print-and-send via postal mail or facsimile, use of a credit card or toll-free telephone number, digital signature, or e-mail accompanied by a PIN or password) will be required only for those activities that pose the greatest risks to the safety and privacy of children -- i.e., disclosing personal information to third parties or making it publicly available through chatrooms or other interactive activities.
The rule requires operators to "give the parent the option to consent to the collection and use of the child's personal information without consenting to disclosure of his or her personal information to third parties."
Much more information about this subject in general and specifically the COPPA regulation is available at the following web sites -
Also see the BCN Youth Center for an extensive list of links to resources for youth to use the Internet.
Also see the BCN Internet Center Privacy page for links to resources about managing your on-line privacy.