By Rosario Méndez
Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education
Federal Trade Commission
Did you buy electronic devices for your children this holiday season? I did — I bought one for my 9 year old — and I want to share with you what I learned about protecting my kid’s personal information online.
The minute my son unwrapped his gift, he began using it and I immediately began worrying about his personal information being exposed. I learned that apps, online services and websites directed to children under 13 years old have to get a parent’s approval before they can collect, use or disclose kids’ personal information. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act requires this. So, as a parent, I have control over who collects my kid’s personal information online.
I don’t want my son’s — and our family’s — sensitive information shared with third parties I didn’t authorize. If you feel the same way, keep these two things in mind:
• If a website or app that targets children wants to collect your kid’s personal information, they need to get your express approval. If you think a website or app has collected information from your child without authorization, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.
Unfortunately, some companies have violated COPPA and the FTC has had to step in. For example, FTC announced that it settled charges with VTech, a company that develops electronic products and services for children, for allegedly violating COPPA.
For more information on how to protect kids online, visit ftc.gov/onguardonline.