COPPA and you!

I am happy to announce that my excellent app developer, OCG Studios, is a Founding Member of the Moms With Apps KWI (Know What’s Inside) Program, created to let parents (and educators, librarians, etc) know what is in our apps. We will be allowed to use the badge (kind of like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval) on our apps and website, because we comply with the COPPA requirements for children under 13 years old, follow Best Practices for Children, and are a developer member of MWA. KWI-Logo-Large-02 Moms With Apps has clear understandable (read: not legalese or too jargon-y) info on their site.

However, COPPA (The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), which went into effect July 1, 2013, also applies to websites (notice the word Online), Facebook, and other social media sites. So if you are an author or illustrator, and have a website with any pages geared  to or appealing to children under 13, you need to have a Privacy Policy on your site – if you offer downloadables like coloring pages, bookmarks; if you collect any info re children (email addresses, photos from school visits or children reading your books, kid’s birthdays, locations, any analytics); if children can access your site and email you for author bio or info; if you have social media buttons, an availability to purchase items, 3rd-party ads, etc, you need to pop a privacy policy on your site ASAP. Or remove them from your site. I am not a lawyer, but it isn’t that complex. From what I understand, it isn’t that you cannot HAVE social media buttons (although why would you, on pages geared to under 13-year-olds, when they should not use them?), or downloadables, or purchases, etc – you have to disclose that you do. If you do collect certain analytics or data, you must have parental consent (see below).

Your Privacy policy should reflect YOUR specific practices. The idea is data minimization. Transparency. I have a simple PP on my website: http://www.roxiemunro.com/privacy-policy.html (It also must be easily accessible –  in the navigation menu, on your home page, or in the footer.) You must also give a contact for people who may wish you to delete info.

 

Here are some straightforward answers re COPPA (although it mentions apps in particular, it applies to websites too): http://www.act4apps.org/coppabasics/

Here are some FAQs from the Dept of Justice site: http://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/complying-coppa-frequently-asked-questions (The Federal Trade Commission oversees the actual law.)

UPDATE:

Okay, folks, the FTC is going after the big guys. Good! But, as I mentioned in this blog months ago, they are not only going after apps for not complying, they are checking websites, as noted in the first paragraph. So just put a Privacy Policy up if your site appeals to children under 13. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/legal-privacy/16834.html
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9 comments
    • Thanks, Lisa! I got into this because of my apps, and then found out it applies to websites also. So trying to spread the word, particularly to my fellow children’s book authors/illustrators, who often have websites appealing to children (they get children’s emails and answer them, have social media buttons, show pictures of kids at school visits or reading their books, etc – all of which has to be considered now). I put a privacy policy up on my own site, but many are not informed, or think it doesn’t apply to them.

  1. This definitely applies to me, thanks! But I don’t even know how to write a privacy policy; what does one even entail?

  2. This definitely applies to me, thanks! But I don’t know anything about writing a privacy policy. What do they entail?

    • Hi Jessica. There are useful links on the post, or, in a pinch, you can go to some other children’s authors’ websites, check out their PP, and, maybe using it as a template, modifying their’s to match your specifics. I have a simple one you can look at (I am NOT a lawyer, however)… http://www.roxiemunro.com/privacypolicy.html Also, if you are a member of SCBWI, the Feb 2013 issue has a post on it (by Sara Ruttenberg).

      • Thank you. I was planning on doing that, but I figured others would want to know too. I read the article and saw the links, but it’s not readily apparent that they are for content help. Thanks again!

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