Today, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced updates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that addresses many of the concerns of industry. In response to the new rules, Association for Competitive Technology Executive Director Morgan Reed made the following statement:
Final Rule Makes Important Changes for Large Companies and Platforms
“ACT and the app developer community appreciate the FTC’s efforts to address to remove ambiguity and address the concerns of large companies and app platforms. These changes are welcome, but the FTC did not do enough to ensure continued opportunities for educational app startups.”
“While we appreciate the efforts of Chairman Leibowitz, we are particularly concerned with his expectation that the industry will simply find a solution to the new rules. It is akin to jumping off a cliff with the plan to build the parachute on the way down. While that may work for big companies, small companies lack the silk and line to build that parachute before they hit the ground. “
Where will Educational Innovation Come From?
“Today, tens of thousands of independent app developers from around the country are building the future of education. I am worried who will be left to finish that work tomorrow.
“These innovators want to provide groundbreaking educational innovations while protecting the privacy of their users, but $9,500 in legal fees represents more than a year’s worth of income for most educational apps. Moreover, even if an app does not actually require COPPA parental consent, the complexity of these rules will require most educational app developers to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees to confirm one way or another.”
Third Party Plug-ins Are Critical to Educational App Startups
“We are very concerned about the implementation of this rule, especially as it applies to the use of third party plug-in technologies that make the app ecosystem possible. At the press conference today, the speakers spent an extraordinary amount of time demonizing these technologies and suggesting the eventual implementation of the new rules would make it difficult for educational app startups to survive. While large, vertically-integrated firms like Google never need to use third party plug-ins, the startup community is dependent on analytics, classroom tools, and other services provided by their partners.”
The Mobile Industry is Giving Parents New Tools, Making COPPA-style Consent Less Important
“In the mobile space, companies like Apple and Microsoft are giving parents the ability to control directly app downloads, app use, and data collection and sharing regardless of decisions made by the app developer. These tools make the need for such drastic changes to the COPPA rules completely unnecessary. This is one area where the industry needs to work directly with the FTC to educate and empower parents and developers on best practices for protecting children’s privacy.”
For more information or to setup an interview with Morgan Reed, please contact Mark Blafkin at 202.420.7483. ACT can also provide educational app developers who can discuss their concerns in detail.