FTC Seeks Comments On COPPA Parental Consent Mechanism Proposal

A second entity, Imperium, LLC, has submitted a parental consent mechanism proposal which it hopes the FTC will amend to the COPPA Rule. As we described when AssertID (another entity seeking to have a parental consent mechanism approved) submitted its proposal, the new COPPA Rule that went into effect in July permits anyone to propose a new mechanism to obtain parental consent that isn't already in the Rule. If accepted by the FTC, the new mechanism will be added to the Rule. Currently contemplated in the Rule are mechanisms like getting consent by phone, through credit card payment, or a parent signing and faxing or PDF-ing a signed form, among other things. Also in the Rule is an "email plus" mechanism for times when a child's information will be used only for internal purposes (and not shared with third parties, nor will the child be given the opportunity to share his or her information with third parties). In its application, Imperium, LLC submitted its ChildGuardOnline service as a proposed new mechanism, describing it as "more" than email plus. As part of the process, the parent receives an email, grants permission online, and during that process, confirms his or her identity. Like the AssertID proposal, the Imperium proposal describes not a general mechanism for getting consent, for example "having parents submit video recordings of them providing verbal consent." Instead, both Imperium and AssertID have described, in some detail, their own specific procedures for getting consent. It appears that the FTC may fear that these two entities are merely trying to get a stamp of approval for their process, rather than proposing a new mechanism for getting consent. Indeed, in the notice from the FTC seeking comments, it has asked for feedback whether the Imperium proposal is truly a new mechanism, or the embodiment of existing consent mechanisms.

TIP: The process for approving new mechanisms was intended to share potential new technologies or ideas about getting parental consent with the industry and letting all take advantage of such developments. If the current two proposals are not accepted by the FTC, companies contemplating new mechanisms may be better served submitting proposals that described consent mechanisms in general terms.

This tip has been created for information and planning purposes. They are not intended to be, nor should they be substituted for, legal advice, which turns on specific facts.