The Federal Trade Commission reminded publishers and advertisers recently that the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits data collection, absent verified parental consent, for behavioral (interest-based) advertising on websites or mobile apps directed at children under 13. App publisher TapBlaze paid $60,000 and entered into a 20-year consent (available here) to settle charges.
The revised COPPA Rule is unequivocal in that absent verified parental consent, unique identifiers (e.g., device ID or ad IDs) cannot be used in connection with services directed to children for advertising that uses data collection over time or third-party services to create profiles on users to deliver them interest-based ads. This means not only no behavioral ads on kids’ online services, but also no “retargeting” by the publishers (serving the user with an ad for the publisher when the user leaves the service and goes to a third-party service) and no data collection on kids’ services for the purpose of building behavioral profiles.
One solution publishers can consider is the development of mixed-use sites and apps where, based on age gating, they offer two versions of the service, with behavioral advertising on only the version for users who identify as 13 or over. However, even those older users need to have notice of behavioral advertising and the ability to opt out of it consistent with the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory program (www.aboutads.info).
For more on COPPA’s requirements, and other laws and self-regulatory requirements for children’s advertising and privacy, see our report: Enforcement Priorities and Trends in Children’s and Minor’s Advertising and Privacy.