With the revision of the “The Children’s Online Privacy Act” it might be time for businesses to assess whether they are COPPA complaint.  Below are some things that all businesses whether they are new or have been around for a long time should consider.

COPPA applies to any commercial website or online service (including mobile apps and social networking sites) targeting kids under 13 that collects, uses, or discloses personal information from children. The law also applies to general audience websites or online services that are knowingly collecting, using or disclosing personal information from children under 13. Personal information is defined as a screen name, or a “persistent identifier” such as IP address, or traditional information including phone number, social security number, photographs, video, and more.

If your app or website fits the criteria above, you are required under COPPA to post privacy policies, provide notice to parents, and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting personal information from children. There are several ways to do this. You can get parental consent by offering a mail-in consent form, a toll-free number or video conference for parents to contact your business.

If a purchase is made by a parent on the site, use of a credit card that provides notice of the sale to the account holder may suffice. The guidelines state, however, that use of a parent’s app store account password is not sufficient to comply with the parental consent requirement. Some exceptions to the prior parental consent rule may apply.  To be safe, double check with the FTC website.

If you answered yes to any of the above and aren’t compliant the FTC may file a complaint against your business.  You can be held liable for up to $16,000 for each child your business unlawfully collects information about.  States may also bring COPPA enforcement actions against businesses, such as issuing a court order for your company to comply with COPPA.

How can you tell if the child lies about his/her age on a general audience website? The website owner isn’t required to investigate the age of visitors to their site. However, if you have knowledge that a child is using your site (for example,  a parent contacts you), then you could be responsible for gathering information from a child.

In addition to the guidelines and frequently asked questions, you can visit the “COPPA Hotline” COPPAHotLine@ftc.gov where you can get more information.

The revised COPPA rule culminates more than two years of review by the agency to modernize the rule.


Instagram the popular social media photo sharing site with approximately 130 million monthly users will now be able to shoot and share videos.

The new video feature is available to all iOS and Android Instagram users as a free update to the existing Instagram app. The basic look of the app is the same, but a small movie icon has been added that takes you into video mode.

The  videos can be between three and 15 seconds long and include any number of individual video clips. After you shoot the video: 13 brand-new filters, created by an artist specifically for Instagram video. They do the usual tweaks to make video pop, like adding vignettes, upping the contrast and playing with color. There is also an image-stabilization feature to even out shaky videos shot on the go.

For now, videos can only be shot from within the Instagram app, and there is no way to upload existing video from your phone’s camera roll.

According to Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom  “It’s everything we know and love about Instagram, but it moves.”

The video-sharing feature puts Instagram in direct competition with Vine, the popular Twitter-owned app that lets users share looping six-second video clips. Vine has skyrocketed in popularity in the six months since it launched, attracting more than 13 million users. Many of the six-second videos have a unique look and feel, employing fast cuts and stop-motion animations to tell quirky little stories.


LinkedIn, the popular professional and job networking site has added a new feature intended to make news links and slide shows easier to find.

This week the social media site launched “Channels” – its name for topics on LinkedIn today, its news hub. The “Channels”  include topics such as “social impact”, “the economy,” “your career”. Some of the channels, like “Things I Carry” and “My Best Career Mistake” are based on LinkedIn’s monthly content packages that incorporate themed essays from LinkedIn’s chosen “thought leaders.”

They “Channels”  allow LinkedIn members to customize the news they see based on their interests. Now members can browse, sort, and follow content by category.

LinkedIn is trying to help its members develop professionally and get better at their current jobs – not just find new ones.

In addition to offering more content of interest to users, “Channels” is an important way to get people to use the site more frequently.  This will in turn help LinkedIn build up its advertising business. It could also help LinkedIn build up its database of information about its members. Right now, LinkedIn mostly has data that members share, like their education and employment history. By tracking what news a member views on LinkedIn, it can develop insightful knowledge about them such as their interests outside their immediate professional field or new interests by knowing what articles they read. This information could be used by recruiters – a key customer base for LinkedIn, find not only people with a track record in a particular industry, but not so obvious candidates for jobs.

Previously, LinkedIn’s customization options were more limited: Members could follow companies or industries, as well as LinkedIn’s “influencers”,  high-profile business leaders who contribute articles to the site. The redesign of LinkedIn today adds emphasis on posts from these “influencers” as well.

Currently, there are around 20 channels. The company expects to add more in the future.

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