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FTC cracks down on ed tech providers’ COPPA compliance

Federal Issues FTC COPPA Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Ed Tech

Federal Issues

On May 19, the FTC warned providers of education technology (ed tech) tools for children that they must fully comply with all provisions of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The Commission voted unanimously to approve a policy statement clarifying how COPPA applies to ed tech tools that gather data about children, while underscoring prohibitions on harvesting and monetizing children’s data. The policy statement explained that ed tech providers cannot force children to disclose more information than is reasonably necessary for participating in their educational services and are prohibited from using collected data for marketing or advertising purposes. Additionally, providers are prohibited from retaining children’s data for longer than necessary to fulfill the purpose for which it was collected, and must have procedures in place to keep the data secure. The FTC noted that “even absent a breach, COPPA-covered ed tech providers violate COPPA if they lack reasonable security.” Providers that fail to comply with COPPA may face civil penalties as well as new requirements and limitations on their business practices to stop the unlawful conduct. The policy statement comes as the FTC reexamines COPPA. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Commission launched a rule review in 2019.