Washington Watch: FTC Expands COPPA Reach and Scrutinizing “Up to” Claims

FTC Proposal Would Expand COPPA Reach to Ad Networks Collecting Info from Children

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking comment on proposed clarification of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to  expand the reach of sites covered by the act to include a plug-in or ad network is covered by the Rule when it knows or has reason to know that it is collecting personal information through a child-directed website or online service.  The revisions also require that a site treat all visitors as children where the websites contain child-oriented content  appealing to both young children and others or target children as their primary audience (i.e.,  these sites must treat all visitors as under 13 years of age unless they age screen).  In addition, the definition of personal information was expanded to include IP address.

Up to Claims 100% More Likely to Get FTC Scrutiny

The FTC released a report that found consumer reaction to claims of savings of up to a certain percent is to expect to achieve the up-to savings amount.  This could be a signal of increased vigilance on the FTC’s part of these claims.  On a related note, the BBB’s National Advertising Division found an Oracle campaign that its product ran 20 times faster based on a single user testimonial (and not any research showing it to be a normal result) was misleading given the unqualified headline.

More info:  FTC COPPA Press Release. FTC Business Center on COPPA Compliance; FTC Press Release on Consumer Study; FTC Guidelines on  Deceptive Pricing;  NAD Press Release