COPPA. How COPPA & Parental Intelligence Systems Help Parents Protect Their Kids Online. The Children s Online Privacy Protection Act

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1 The Children s Online Privacy Protection Act COPPA How COPPA & Parental Intelligence Systems Help Parents Protect Their Kids Online A uknow White Paper by Tim Woda, co founder of uknow.com, Inc

2 Overview COPPA is designed to keep children under 13 safe when they re online. However, it can t replace proactive parental involvement using a Parental Intelligence System. When children under 13 share their personal information on the Internet, they are exposing themselves to serious dangers in the physical world. By creating social networking profiles, playing online games, and using mobile apps, children are sharing their personal information with companies and individuals without their knowledge and without their parent s knowledge. The revised Children s Online Privacy Protection Act and related rules, also known as COPPA, is a way for the Federal Trade Commission to regulate what personal information operators of websites, apps, and online services can take from children under 13 when they go online. COPPA is a progressive legal development. Still, parents are in the best position to protect the privacy of their children, but they need powerful technology on their side. This paper explains what COPPA is, how it works, and how a Parental Intelligence System can help parents take a more proactive role in their child s online safety. Parents need to participate in their children s digital world. Rules are not enough. We need to teach our kids how to use and enjoy technology responsibly and that is best achieved by engaging early and often. Tim Woda Internet and mobile safety expert, co founder of uknow.com 1

3 ONLINE PREDATORS AND MARKETERS ARE WORKING HARD TO COLLECT INFORMATION ABOUT THE IDENTITIES, ACTIVITIES, AND INTERESTS OF CHILDREN 2

4 The Dangers Children Face Online Ironically, to circumvent the restrictions imposed by COPPA, many children will lie about their age when registering on social media sites, exposing themselves and their friends to danger Of course, responsible parents would never post their child s name, age, address, social security number, photo, and geographic location on the Internet. However, millions of children upload their private information to the Internet every day through social networking sites, mobile apps, and mobile games without concern for their personal safety. They do it because they want to log into a social media site, play an online game, view videos, or simply connect with their friends. Children don t see the harm in sharing their personal information. With so much of their information available online, children are easy targets not just for unscrupulous marketing behavior but also cyber-bullying, stalking, kidnapping, and predators looking to arrange meetings for sexual abuse. They are interacting in an online world that will take advantage of them if their parents don t protect them. Parents understand the dangers their children face in real life. They tell their children not to talk to strangers and to look both ways before crossing the street. It s a challenge to protect children in the real world, but it s much harder to protect them on the Internet. Predators: COPPA s unintended consequence Research conducted by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University concluded that, ironically, COPPA indirectly puts children and their friends at risk. This is because some children will lie about their age when registering on social media sites to avoid getting their parents involved. By lying, 3

5 they have increased the level of danger for themselves as well as for their truthful friends. The report entitled The High-School Profiling Attack: How Online Privacy Laws Can Actually Increase Minors Risk explains how an attacker with modest crawling and computational resources, and employing simple data mining heuristics, can create extensive profiles of tens of thousands of children in a specific geographic area just because some of them lied about their age when signing up on social media sites such as Facebook. Marketers know kids better than parents The world of social media, mobile apps, and gaming is a highly integrated network that shares detailed information about children primarily for marketing and revenue generation The operators of websites and mobile apps know children better than their parents do. The more online services a child use, the more information about that child is discretely transmitted to advertising networks, analytics companies, and other third parties. That allows marketers to develop a precise profile about individual children all without the knowledge of the child or their parent. According to a December 2012 report by the Federal Trade Commission entitled Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade, the agency concluded that little or no progress has been made in increasing transparency regarding what data is collected from children who use Apple and Google mobile apps and how that information is shared with third parties. Armed with shockingly detailed information about children, marketers target them with specific advertising as they use mobile apps or roam the Internet. They encourage children to link social networking accounts to the website or app, allowing the marketer to communicate with the child and their friends. Marketers even entice children to make in-app purchases or to sign up for other services. 4

6 What is COPPA? COPPA protects children under 13 by requiring website and app operators to obtain parental consent to collect a child s personal information There has been an increase in the attention given to COPPA recently because it has been updated for the first time since Congress passed the Children s Online Privacy Protection Act in The Internet and the way children use technology have changed. Social networking and mobile devices have made the Internet more accessible to children in ways that were impossible to foresee more than a decade ago. Behavioral advertising, online tracking, and highly targeted data collection have made the personal information of children easily accessible to businesses and individuals. Because opportunities to exploit children have increased exponentially due to new technologies, COPPA has been updated to address modern threats to privacy. The intent of the law is to give parents more control over the information collected from their child online and how the collected information is used and shared. Enforcement of COPPA The Federal Trade Commission ( FTC ) is charged with enforcing COPPA. If prosecuted by the FTC, a court can hold operators who violate the rule liable for civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation. One high-profile case of COPPA enforcement involved Sony Music Entertainment. In 2008, the company agreed to pay $1 million to settle FTC charges that it had collected the personal information of at least 30,000 children on its nearly 2,000 entertainment websites. The company neither admitted nor denied any wrongdoing. 5

7 How COPPA protects children COPPA was designed to protect children from operators of websites, apps, or online services ( operators ) in four fundamental ways:! #1 Before operators may collect personal information from a child under the age of 13 they must obtain the parent s verified consent. #2 Operators must clearly list their contact information, including physical address, telephone number, and address. #3 Operators must store the child s personal information securely. #4 Operators must clearly describe the information they intend to collect and how they will use it and share it. What qualifies as personal information COPPA s rules apply to all websites, apps, and online services that have children as their primary audience, as well as those that know they are collecting personal information from children under the age of 13. Under the revised COPPA, personal information means individually identifiable information about an individual. That includes names, street address, city, address, telephone number, social security number, photos, videos, audio recordings, IP address, and any other identifier that permits the physical or online contacting of a child. 6

8 The Age of Digital Parenting How can parents protect their children from online dangers when the technology available to marketers and predators continues to grow in sophistication? COPPA is a significant advancement in online child safety, but it isn t enough. Parents must embrace the age of Digital Parenting. Child protection organizations such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children recommend a variety of actions that parents take to guard the online safety of their children. Parents are encouraged to take a proactive approach to communicating with their child about online dangers. They are also encouraged to monitor their child s online behavior and know what websites they frequent and with whom they are communicating. Parents need new parenting tools The traditional ways that parents use to protect their children in the physical world are not enough to protect them online. Parents need to fight technology with technology. They need a powerful digital tool in the age of Digital Parenting. 7

9 PARENTS MUST TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR CHILD S ONLINE SAFETY 8

10 The uknowkids Solution: A Parental Intelligence System What is a Parental Intelligence System? Proactive parents do their best to monitor their child s online activities without physically looking over their shoulder whenever they go online. To become an effective Digital Parent, they need an effective automated tool. A Parental Intelligence System does all of the monitoring for parents by giving them a real-time view of their child's online activities. It does the heavy lifting by keeping track of activity across multiple social networking services simultaneously. Then it crunches the data to find patterns and trends, and translates it all back to parents in a form that is easy to understand and use. A Parental Intelligence System also has the power to scan for unwanted keywords and phrases. When they re found, the system immediately sends notifications so parents can act quickly to guard their child s safety. Parents are outgunned on the Internet by marketers and predators. They need the uknowkids Parental Intelligence System. 9

11 Checklist: What Parents Need in a Parental Intelligence System % Social Search Search across the most popular social networks to find their child s public or private profile. % Facebook Monitoring Monitor all Facebook messenger activities and see new friends, status updates, and photos. % Twitter Monitoring Monitor all Twitter public and private posts, and see who s talking about their child. % Instagram Monitoring View the pictures their child posts as well as the likes and comments their child make or receive. % Mobile Phone Monitoring Monitor their child s text messages, call history, downloaded apps, and pictures taken. % Family Locator Tool Keep track of their child s last known location complete with the closest address. 10

12 Conclusion uknowkids is the most powerful and flexible Parental Intelligence System available for protecting children from online dangers Predators and marketers are using sophisticated software and algorithms to collect personal information about children and their online behavior. COPPA is designed to protect children from these dangers, but the law isn t enough. Sadly, parents can t count on predators to play by the rules. Also, many children bypass the rules by lying about their age, and some marketers may ignore the rules entirely. The privacy and safety of children is in the hands of their parents and they need technology that is powerful enough to meet the challenge. uknowkids is the solution uknowkids is the first Parental Intelligence System that offers a secure, real-time, web-based method for protecting children by monitoring their online activity. It gathers information and analyzes what it discovers. Then the system reports what it finds back to parents through an easy-to-understand dashboard. When there is an immediate threat, the system alerts parents instantly. uknowkids makes Digital Parenting easier by leveling the technology playing field. Parents now have a powerful tool that makes it easier for them to protect their children from digital dangers that have serious consequences in the physical world. 11

13 About uknowkids uknow powers smart tools that connect and protect digital families. At uknow, we strive to help families protect their personal data and information from being misused to invade their privacy, impact their reputation, steal their identity, or threaten their safety. Our flagship product, uknowkids, helps protect kids from the dangers of the Internet with uniquely intelligent tools. Unlike other parental control software, uknowkids enables parents to have their child s back without constantly looking over their shoulder. By giving parents the information they need to educate their children about staying safe online and the access to smarter tools to supervise them in a digital world, uknowkids helps make the Internet safer for kids and less intimidating for parents. Cover photo courtesy of PictureYouth on Flickr. 12

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