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August 25, 2014

Where the Law and Parenting Meet, What You Need to Know

by Sam Ranard

Most parents want to be “in the know” when it comes to raising their children. They read books and articles, go to parenting websites, talk to their fellow parent peers and try to stay up with all of the newest parenting trends. However, many parents fail to educate themselves on the laws that surround the lives of their children and affect the parenting decisions that you should make. From which car seat to buy to your children on the internet to breast feeding, there are laws that pretty much cover all aspects of parenting. 

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The amount of laws that are relevant to parenting are countless. There are far too many laws to cover in one blog post. I will attempt to combine some of the laws that you are most likely to question or come across in your quest to be the best parent that you can. Be sure to check back for updates.

Children’s Internet Privacy Laws

When it comes to protecting the privacy of children on the internet, The Children’s Online PRivacy Protection ACt (COPPA) leads the way in protecting your child’s internet privacy. COPPA in place to protect children (under the age of 13) from having their information given out to or collected by any company. These laws also allow parents more ability to protect their children from such activities. COPPA only applies when a site in whole, or has a section, that applies to children.

According to the Federal Trade Commissions website, “The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the COPPA Rule. If a site or service is covered by COPPA, it has to get your consent before collecting personal information from your child and it has to honor your choices about how that information is used.” If a site does not collect data from its users, than COPPA will not kick in.

 

What Does COPPA Do?

COPPA limits the amount of information that can be collected from children. According to EPIC, the Electronic Privacy  Information Center, the following are the primary purposes of COPPA:

  • Incorporation of a detailed privacy policy that describes the information collected from its users.
  • Acquisition of a verifiable parental consent prior to collection of personal information from a child under the age of 13.
  • Disclosure to parents of any information collected on their children by the website.
  • A Right to revoke consent and have information deleted.
  • Limited collection of personal information when a child participates in online games and contests.
  • A general requirement to protect the confidentiality, security, and integrity of any personal information that is collected online from children.

 

How Does COPPA Work?

COPPA works in the following way, if your child wants to use a website or get an app that collects their personal information, the website should prompt you first on what the site is asking for and how it is going to use the information – such as for advertising and marketing. The notice should be in plain language and will ask for your consent. The notice that the parent will receive should also include directions on how to give your consent. Some sites allow you to consent in some manner online, some will also allow you to mail in your consent.

To me, this sounds extremely inconvenient and time consuming. I imagine the only time a parent would go to such lengths to allow a company to obtain its child’s data would be if the site or app requires consent to the information request in order to access its content. Which then of course prompts the child to pester their parents until they consent.

However, having your kids pester you to consent to the information request is, to an extent, what COPPA is in place to do. It increases the privacy that your children have bon the internet. When the child is begging their parent to fill out the consent form, online or otherwise, they are informing the parent of what they are doing and looking at on the internet. Now the parent knows of what site or app the child is trying to access, and the child’s access is being limited when it otherwise would not be. It is one more safeguard for children scanning the internet. In addition, under COPPA if you agree to let the site or service collect personal information from your child, it has a legal obligation to keep it secure.


I will be adding parenting laws on a weekly basis so be sure to check back.

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