Groups Ask FTC To Delay New COPPA Rules

The Federal Trade Commission's new children's privacy rules are so complicated that  companies need more time to figure out how to comply with the regulations, two trade organizations said today.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau and Application Developers Alliance have each asked the FTC to extend the deadline for compliance until Jan. 1 2014. The new Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act rules are currently slated to go into effect on July 1 of this year.

The new regulations, announced late last year, effectively ban the use of behavioral targeting techniques on sites and apps directed to young children. COPPA itself prohibits Web site operators from knowingly collecting personal data from children under 13 without their parents' consent, but tasks the FTC with defining terms like "personal information" and "web site operator."

The FTC's new rules broadly define “personal information” as including data used by ad networks to create behavioral profiles, including persistent cookies and mobile device identifiers. The new definition also includes IP addresses, geolocation data and photos of children. But the FTC says that data collected for purposes of site analysis, frequency capping or contextual advertising is not considered personal information.



The IAB says in its letter to the FTC that the expanded definition of personal information means it will extend the rules' reach to companies that previously weren't affected. Some of them will “need time to update their software and business models, which may have been planned well in advance of the release of the updated COPPA Rule,” the IAB argues.

The Application Developers Alliance, a one-year-old organization representing developers, adds: “The rule changes are so significant and the penalties so severe that, absent delay, many developers and publishers will simply stop publishing, placing their entire business at risk.”

Jon Potter, president of the developers' group, tells MediaPost that many companies that create apps are “very nervous” about the new rules. He says that many app developers who don't collect data themselves worry that they could risk liability due to actions of their ad-network partners.

The FTC is expected to elaborate on the new rules in May, by publishing answers to frequently asked questions.

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