With the supposed increase in the enforcement of this act, there is a buzz about forums about whether this law applies to your website. First off, it is a US federal law, so although you may not fall under its direct jurisdiction, you can safely assume that your country will mirror the law soon enough, so best to get compliant early to avoid development costs later. Also, its not a bad thing to get compliant with from a moral point of view. Another consideration is that Google probably takes this quite seriously and may, by extension, enforce it to a degree through search results.
Children's Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA, is an act passed in 1998, which outlines laws pertaining to the collection, storage and sharing of information about children under the age of 13 years old. Its enforcement falls under the label of personally identifiable information (PII), and includes any of the following:
- Geolocation information that could result in the identification of the child's location
- Telephone number
- Personal identification number
- Information that could, through persistent links across sites identify and/or lead to contact information
- Pretty much any route to the child in the physical world
So does it apply to me?
Well as is always the case, the lines are blurry, and should be carefully considered with the aid of this document outlining COPPA and in the presence of your lawyer, but from what we understand, the act applies to you if:
- Your site is aimed at children under the age of 13 years old
- If you have actual knowledge that your user base, and particularly those giving you information, includes children.
- You are running a third party service which collects information from children, from another website.
The blurry bit in our eyes is point two; but we suspect this means that your records could prove that you knew that a child had given you information. Can you reasonably assume that as you are selling conveyancing, that a child might have inquired, and that you therefore need to comply with the storage and disclosure rules outlined in the act? You and your lawyer need to answer that for yourselves. We thought this article helped answer this question.
If you have a rubbish lawyer, our advice would be to assume the answer is yes...