Law Practice Management and Technology

The Bottom Line Volume 35, No. 1, February 2014

From Lemonade and Lucy to COPPA and Cookies

By Adam D.H. Grant, Esq.
Alpert Barr & Grant

Growing up as children, our first taste of commerce involved selling lemonade in front of our house on a sweltering summer day, or wondering what justified the hefty price of 5 cents that Lucy charged Charlie Brown for psychiatric help. We dreamed of consuming an endless number of cookies. However, dreams of chocolate oozing scrumptious spheres of delight now fade into an abyss of virtual electronic spheres designed to ooze information including “geolocation” and “persistent identifiers.” As of July 1, 2013, the Child Online Privacy Protection Policy (“COPPA”) dramatically altered how we think about cookies. These new cookies may not be as appealing to the 13 and under crowd, but to those who develop mobile apps, they are included in the daily-recommended consumption of data in this 21st century.

Protection of Children’s Privacy on the Rise

While COPPA has been in effect since 2000, the legislature materially expanded its application. COPPA requires parental consent before an online service directed at children under 13 collects the child’s personal information. The act also applies to an online service that has actual knowledge that it collects personal information from children. The act requires that an operator must: (1) post a privacy policy; (2) obtain verifiable consent from parents before collection; (3) give parents the option to limit the uses of the information; (4) allow parents to request deletion of the information; (5) allow parents to prevent further uses or collection of the information; (6) maintain the security of the information; and (7) not condition a child’s participation on the child’s disclosing more personal information.

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