POLITICO, the nonpartisan, Washington-based political journalism organization that serves as the one-stop shop for in-depth coverage of the White House, Congress, politics and policy, published an article yesterday on COPPA and FTC efforts to enforce the privacy law. The author of the article, Erin Mershon, interviewed me on background, during which time we discussed my utter amazement at the lack of awareness of COPPA among game and app developers.
Erin’s article called COPPA, “costly and confusing for businesses.” The article also noted there was a spike in inquires about COPPA, according to attorneys, following last week’s FTC settlement with Apple regarding in-app purchases made without parental consent. I’ll post a link to the full article here when it emerges from behind Politico’s paywall.
One of the most interesting points in the Politico article was that Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, had actually warned that the grace period to comply with COPPA is ending and the agency “will begin to ramp up enforcement where needed to ensure compliance.” This statement came from remarks made by Rich during a public address last month where she also declined to comment on pending suits but did say “the efforts we have underway right now on the enforcement front are all nonpublic.”
I was quoted in the article with a couple of statements about developers’ lack of understanding regarding what COPPA 2.0 really requires of them and a general lack of motivation to make changes to become compliant with the law. I believe it’s no exaggeration that less than a quarter of the developer industry really ‘gets’ COPPA.
Do we need to wait for these pending FTC sanctions to be made public and the companies charged with violating COPPA to fork over a substantial amount of cash before the developer community wakes up and pays this law the attention it is demanding? I certainly hope not.
If you'd like to educate yourself on COPPA, here's a page of history and links we've created for game developers at AgeCheq. To learn more about COPPA directly from The Federal Trade Commission, check out this list of answers to frequently asked questions: http://business.ftc.gov/documents/Complying-with-COPPA-Frequently-Asked-Questions