COVID-19 and Children’s Online Privacy

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The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the way that we live our daily lives. The pandemic has affected children, particularly the time they spend online on various devices. Millions of children around the country had been forced to rely on home computers and other electronic devices for distance learning, recreational activities, social media, and more. Many of the businesses that have moved into the online field to take advantage of all of the new consumers are unaware that they are entering into a regulated environment, particularly when it comes to services directed at children under the age a 13.

What is the COPPA Act?

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives parents the right to control the personal information that companies collect about their from their children under the age of 13. The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for enforcing the COPPA Rule.

What Does COPPA Require?

The COPPA Rule was put into place to protect children’s personal information on websites and other online services, including apps. This rule requires that sites and services notify parents directly and get the parents’ approval before they collect, use, or disclose a child’s personal information. This includes information such as a child’s:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Physical whereabouts
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Auto recordings
  • IP addresses

The COPPA Rule requires that companies and services provide comprehensive privacy policies that describe practices when obtaining information related to children using their product. Companies and services are required to provide direct notices to parents before they obtain any personal information about a child, and give the parents the choice of consenting or declining. These companies must also provide parents access to view the child’s personal information that has been collected and allow for parental deletion of the information.

Additionally, parents should be allowed to prevent any further collection or use of their child’s information, even if they have previously consented to giving the information to the company. These companies and services are required to maintain confidentiality, security, and integrity of the information they collect from a child.

How Can Parents Help Keep Kids Safe Online?

As a parent, we understand how important your child’s safety is. We strongly recommend that you keep a close watch on the services and apps your child uses both for school and for recreational purposes. If you are uncomfortable with any service or app collecting and disseminating information about your child, find the portion of their site that allows you to opt-out of this collection and to delete the information they have already gathered.

Additionally, please understand that many online predators are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. They know that children are online more, and they are trying to find new ways to gain access to children. You have the right, as a parent, to monitor any minor child’s online behavior.

Consult a West Virginia Consumer Protection Lawyer

If you have any concerns about your child’s safety online or if you think that your child’s rights have been violated, seek assistance from a West Virginia consumer protection lawyer immediately. At Tiano O’Dell, we take the COPPA Act very seriously, and we know that the safety of your child is your primary concern. You can contact us online or call us at (304) 720-6700.