The Commission's COPPA Rule requires operators of online sites and services directed at children under the age of 13 to provide notice and obtain permission from a child's parents before collecting personal information from that child. The COPPA safe harbor provision provides flexibility and promotes efficiency in complying with the Act by encouraging industry members or groups to develop their own COPPA oversight programs.
The COPPA law also directs the Commission to review and approve self-regulatory program guidelines that would serve as safe harbors. Website operators that participate in a COPPA safe harbor program will, in most circumstances, be subject to the review and disciplinary procedures provided in the safe harbor's guidelines in lieu of formal FTC investigation and law enforcement.
The Commission determined that the kidSAFE safe harbor program provides "the same or greater protections for children" as those contained in the COPPA Rule; effective mechanisms used to assess operators' compliance; effective incentives for operators' compliance with the guidelines; and an adequate means for resolving consumer complaints.
The Commission vote to approve the kidSAFE safe harbor application was 4-0.
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