Children’s PrivacyDecember 17, 2012Page 3 of 5
saying it is not okay for advertisers to do this kind of tracking in exchange forfree content. 91% of parents said that it was not okay for advertisers to collectinformation about a child’s location from that child’s phone.Mobile app operators’ widespread noncompliance with the COPPA Rulesuggests that app operators either disregard their responsibilities under COPPAbecause they do not fear legal repercussions for failing to meet them, or areunaware of these responsibilities altogether. For COPPA to protect children andkeep parents informed of their kids’ activities online, as it was intended to do,operators must both be aware of their COPPA obligations and commit tocomplying with those obligations.CDD urges the FTC to step up enforcement of the COPPA Rule againstmobile app operators. At this time the FTC has brought only one enforcementaction against a mobile app operator.
But smartphones and tablets withdownloadable apps have been popular for a number of years, and access to theInternet via mobile app is rapidly catching up to traditional Internet access usinga computer. Indeed, a Common Sense Media research study released in 2011reported that while 68% of families with children ages 0-8 had high-speedInternet access at home, almost as many—52%—had access to a smartphone, avideo iPod or similar device, or an iPad or other tablet.
The FTC’s search of appstores in July 2011 for the term “kids” yielded over 8,000 results in the AppleApp Store and over 3,600 in the Android Market.
The Commission needs to goafter child-directed app operators that ignore COPPA both to send a message tooperators that children’s privacy obligations are to be taken seriously, and toreassure parents that the child-directed apps they and their children downloadare in compliance with the law.Merely stepping up enforcement, however, will not be enough; the FTCmust also follow through with the proposed revisions to the COPPA Rule thatwill clarify child-directed app operators’ responsibilities. The Rule should make
United States v. W3 Innovations
LLC, No. CV–11–03958 (N.D. Cal., filed Aug. 12, 2011).
Common Sense Media,
Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America
9 (Fall 2011),
Fed. Trade Comm’n,
Mobile Apps for Kids: Current Privacy Disclosures are Dis