CDD and EPIC Tell FTC to Reject AssertID's Proposal for COPPA Parental Consent Scheme

CDD, joined by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, filed comments at the FTC yesterday opposing the request by AssertID that the commission approve a new method of verifiable parental consent under COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). The proposed method would mine parents’ online social network information and ask third parties to judge whether that information is truthful or not, a method based on a “trust score” algorithm that the company claims is confidential and secret from the public. CDD asked the commission to oppose the application because it lacked information that explains how it assures that consenting parties are parents, and it leaves big questions about what the company is going to do with information it requires from parents.

“This proposed method would take a parent’s personal information (including their location, photos, and full friends list from Facebook) and sensitive information on their child, without first telling parents that they had a right to refuse consent – parents have to pay out their own privacy in order to protect their children’s. This turns the regulations on their head by undercutting families’ privacy, and this method should not be approved by the FTC without significant changes in the application,” said CDD’s Legal Director, Hudson Kingston.

The request (link is external)to approve a new parental consent mechanism is the first COPPA proceeding under the stronger children’s privacy rules that went into effect last July. Jeff Chester, CDD’s executive director, noted that this filing launches an expanded effort to ensure that online and mobile commercial sites and services are in compliance with COPPA’s enhanced safeguards. “CDD has added legal, public outreach and technical resources designed to protect kids and empower parents and caregivers,” he explained.

The Institute for Public Representation at the Georgetown University Law Center, under the direction of Prof. Angela Campbell, collaborates with CDD on this child-protection initiative.