Rockefeller Says Modernized COPPA Rule Will Better Protect Children Online

December 19, 2012

JDR Head ShotWASHINGTON, DC--Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV gave remarks at a press conference to announce the update and modernization of the regulations implementing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), also known as the COPPA Rule, to address new commercial practices and technological advances in the past decade.

Prepared Opening Statement – Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman

I want to commend the FTC and Chairman Leibowitz’s leadership on children’s privacy.  Revising the regulations that govern the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act – also known as the “COPPA Rule” – was long overdue.  The FTC is proposing common sense updates to the COPPA Rule that better reflect the realities of the current online world.

When COPPA originally passed over a decade ago, Congress and the FTC could not anticipate what the Internet would look like or how parents and children would conduct their affairs online.  For instance, the original COPPA Rule never anticipated the exponential growth of the mobile marketplace in which advanced “smartphones” are now powerful, mini-computers that allow parents and children to access online content from any location.  The COPPA Rule never anticipated the widespread availability and popularity of software – known as applications or “apps” – that are installed on these smartphones.  And the old COPPA Rule never fully appreciated that third-party companies would increasingly populate websites and apps to collect and use personal information. 

The new COPPA Rule captures this new online reality.  The new Rule puts all online companies on notice, no matter who they are, that they are required to comply with the law.  Under the new Rule, when a children’s website or application allows third-parties to collect information from children, those websites and apps will be liable under COPPA.  Furthermore, those third-parties will also be held liable if they know they are collecting information on websites or apps directed toward children.  

With all of the ideological and partisan differences that are a mainstay in Washington, I would hope that children’s privacy would not be a subject of ideological debate.  Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, a consumer or business, protecting the privacy of children should be an absolute priority.  This should be a universal issue. Children’s privacy will remain a top priority for me in my capacity as Chairman of the Commerce Committee.  With the new COPPA Rule, I will also determine if Congress should act to make further changes in the law.