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Volume XI, Number 301

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FTC Takes Aristotle International Off the COPPA Safe Harbor List

In an unusual but significant move, on August 4, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) removed Aristotle International from the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Safe Harbor List. There were 7 organizations on the list, which were approved by the FTC to self-regulate themselves under COPPA, but with this first removal by the FTC, there are now 6. In general, COPPA requires that parental consent be given prior to the collection or use of personal information of children under the age of 13.

In order to be included on the Safe Harbor list, the organizations were required to certify compliance with the FTC’s COPPA Rule. This included developing “guidelines that provide the same or greater protections for children as the COPPA Rule. They also must have an effective and mandatory mechanism in place to conduct independent assessments of member organizations’ compliance with the program guidelines.” Aristotle was approved by the FTC to operate a COPPA Safe Harbor program in 2012.

According to the FTC’s press release, the removal from the Safe Harbor list means that “Operators of websites and online services that paid Aristotle fees to participate in its self-regulatory program can no longer receive favorable regulatory treatment.”

The FTC initially contacted Aristotle with concerns about its compliance with COPPA and its oversight its members’ compliance. According to the FTC, “The FTC will no longer allow self-regulatory organizations to flout their obligations under Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act rules. Aristotle will no longer be recognized by the FTC as an approved Safe Harbor program. There is a clear conflict of interest when self-regulatory organizations are funded by the website operators and app developers they are supposed to police, so we will be closely scrutinizing other children’s privacy oversight outfits to determine whether they are living up to their obligations.

The collection and use of children’s information while they are online continues to be a hot-button issue for privacy advocates. It is clearly a regulatory enforcement priority for the FTC as well, so reviewing COPPA compliance in the wake of this announcement may be prudent.

 

Copyright © 2021 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 223
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About this Author

Linn F. Freedman, Robinson Cole Law Firm, Cybersecurity and Litigation Law Attorney, Providence
Partner

Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She provides guidance on data privacy and cybersecurity compliance to a full range of public and private clients across all industries, such as construction, education, health care, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, utilities and critical infrastructure, marine, and charitable organizations. Linn is a member of the firm's Business Litigation Group and chairs its Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team. She is also a member of the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team (CyFi ...

401-709-3353
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