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7th COPPA Safe Harbor Program Approved; Safe Harbor Annual Reports FOIA'd

Date: Aug 07, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the application by the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeep Safe) as the seventh Safe Harbor Program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  The decision, issued August 7, 2014, dismissed objections by another Safe Harbor organization and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) about iKeep Safe’s ability to operate an effective program.

iKeep Safe is characterized as an advocacy network dedicated to creating “positive resources for parents, educators, and policymakers who teach youths how to use new media devices and platforms in safe and healthy ways.”  iKeepSafe developed its program around the ideas of transparency, minimization of data collection, parental control of children’s data, security, and education.  Like other Safe Harbor organizations, companies that apply for a safe harbor seal under iKeepSafe will be required to produce documentation regarding data collection practices as required under the program.  If a company is approved, its website(s) will be seeded for evaluations a minimum of three times per year to ensure continued compliance with the program.  The seals may be renewed annually through a reevaluation process.

Under COPPA, the FTC is directed to review proposals for new oversight programs committed to helping companies comply with COPPA and gain parental consent before tracking children under the age of thirteen.  Other FTC approved safe harbor programs include the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ (CARU) (Feb. 2001), ESRB Privacy Certified (April 2001), TRUSTe (May 2001), Privacy Vaults Online, Inc. (PRIVO) (Aug. 2004), Aristole International, Inc., (Feb. 2012), and kidSafe Seal Program (Feb. 2014). 

CDD has been a long-time critic of safe harbor programs and filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on July 2, 2014 seeking access to annual reports filed by the six previously-approved COPPA Safe Harbor organizations.  CDD stated that it has substantial concerns about the operation of safe harbor programs, and that it expects the issue to “heat up” in the next year. 

For more information about this and other privacy matters, contact Sheila A. Millar at millar@khlaw.com or 202 434-4143; or Tracy P. Marshall at marshall@khlaw.com or 202 434-4234.