Background: “COPPA” is the “Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.” Its implementation has many YouTube creators in a panic. I have watched several YouTube COPPA videos by YouTube creators and have gained much clarity after watching the FTC panels which met on Monday, October 7, 2019. The YouTube “COPPA panic” videos helped me to understand where I personally “stand” as a YouTube Creator, but the FTC symposiums, Parts 1 and 2, helped me better understand the governmental thrust of “Protecting America’s Consumers,” particularly with underage children. Following are my notes as I listened to “COPPA RULE, Part 2.” Attention is given by me to abbreviations and their meanings.
My condensed version/perception of the FTC panel: “The Future of COPPA Part 2,” follows:
“Friction” was identified as a barrier preventing parental use of online security measures. Several times, it was mentioned that some parents direct their children to input an older age into an online permission of use so that the number of times tablets are passed back and forth from the back seat of the moving vehicle to the front seat is minimized. A lack of convenience can be “friction.”
Morgan Reed, an App panelist, commented that he did not want COPPA to stand in the way of disabled children communicating with their parents while using electronic devices (30:11). He implied that electronics can connect disabled children in the world, as compared to the “overuse” seen with the typical American child online. My thought: This was novel thinking; a different angle on the topic!
One of the concerns mentioned by Ariel Fox Johnson (47:02) with the use of mobile devices by children is the minimal amount of “co-watching” as compared to the experience shared by parents and children while watching television together. Parental involvement is often limited in mobile devices.
Samantha Vargas Poppe (51:45), saw that COPPA is for “protecting children” as compared to protecting the “bottom line” of company developers. She was not for weakening or “watering down” COPPA guidelines (about 1:26:00). At about 1:29:00, Morgan Reed concurred.
“VPC” is “verifiable parental consent.” This can be an expensive and time-consuming process (a source of “friction”), especially regarding education technology used in schools (begins about 57:00). Amelia Vance suggested (about 59:00): “Ed tech is the new textbook.” Steve Smith made comments regarding ed tech and student data collection in schools. Much more consideration is given to proper use of student information usage in schools. The suggestion is that districts should sign up for educational apps as compared to individual teachers. “FERPA” was mentioned. District size impacts implementation; financial issues are involved.
Reflection: As a college teacher, I do not want my students to have access to electronic textbooks only; I want something the student can hold and “mark up.” This old school “dream” of mine seems to be rapidly fading as I talk with the book publishers regarding the future of “texts.”
Clarification: “FERPA” is defined the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, which is a law that gives parents rights over student records.
Sheila Millar discussed the topic of voice recognition in the home, a form of data collection (about 1:23:00).
Amelia Vance at about 1:30:00 suggested student input in the process. Standards in Europe were referenced several times: “GDPR” is the “EU General Data Protection Regulation.” (I believe a representative contributed in Part 1 of the symposium).
At about 1:44:00 (after a break), Jonathan Mayer presented: “Technology trends in COPPA rules.” My takeaways: one half of children below age of eight own a mobile device, such as a tablet and the usage on tablets and mobile devices is much higher than traditional computers. Box unloads and game watching are sometimes common as compared to actual participation. Minecraft, Candy Crush and Fortnite were mentioned as popular iPad games, with free-to-play options and in-app purchases. Mayer also addressed “EdTech”: Educational Technology.
Questions were made about the effectiveness of EdTech in schools in anticipation of COPPA revisions (about 1:55:00).
At about the 2:00:00 mark, lawyers, COPPA developers and content creators were featured in Panel 4: “Persistent Identifiers.”
Katharina Kopp (at about 2:07:00) talked about unhealthy food advertising targeted ads to minors which contribute to the obesity epidemic.
Another panelist said that adult users want but are not willing to pay for privacy.
One theme I have heard over and over is that online users expect “free.” When it’s not free, users threaten developers with “bad” ratings.
Kate O’Loughlin discussed data-free advertising at about 2:17:00.
Julia Tama at about 2:20:00 and again at 2:25:00, talked about the necessity for clear data collecting guidelines and clear jurisdiction for COPPA; that COPPA shouldn’t overstep its bounds or original intentions (my paraphrase).
Harry Jho (2:26:00), internet developer of “Mother Goose Club,” discussed how that utilizing Google demographic data helped him decide to make a Spanish version of his content. He stated that he did not need or want user-level data.
Reflection: I appreciate the FTC for inviting Mr. Jho to the discussion. I believe he illustrated how that data collection can be tailored to meet the needs of the consumer.
At 2:34:00, Jonathan Mayer discussed “bare minimum usage data” needed by apps to allow access to IP addresses so that they can simply load.
Kate O’Loughlin next talked about how some commercial stores measure effective advertising based on entry (or visits) to the given store location.
At about 2:47:00, questions were taken from the audience by one of the moderators: Mark Eichorn. He talked about how that COPPA guidelines were built to put the parent back into the driver’s seat. The idea of advertisers starting relationships with child users independent of parental knowledge were in question.
James Cooper, at about 2:48:00 acknowledged the original intent of the law to prohibit the activity of online predators but challenged lawmakers not to clump unsafe data collection with safe data collection.
At about 2:53:00, Julia Tama discussed prohibitions of sellers and advertisers from picking up the phone and directly contacting consumers.
At about 2:59:00, Harry Jho discussed the immediate need of “bridging” expectations between the FTC and developers, since his ability to continue to make a living online as an internet product developer in January 2020 may be at risk.
James Cooper cautioned against undervaluing ads to kids…..should COPPA be used to restrict advertisements to kids? He cautioned against thinking that all advertisements to kids are deceptive.
Kate O’Loughlin stated that some advertisers attempt to get past COPPA guidelines by saying we are “trying to reach the family.”
My thoughts: I really do make my YouTube Channels “family friendly.” Really. For real. I am afraid that the lawmakers automatically look at this terminology as deceptive. Ouch.
Katharina Kopp followed with concerns about discrimination and inequalities in advertising, echoing some of Poppe’s earlier comments.
In the closing remarks, an October 23, 2019 deadline for remarks affecting FTC’s implementation of the COPPA rule was mentioned.
Reflections: We live in a consumer society with many privileges, but we have come to expect “free” stuff. Entitlement. It is a gift to utilize the internet as a user AND as a creator. For instance, as a YouTube creator, I do not have a “right” to publish on YouTube. YouTube allows me to post and it is up to me as a creator to determine the responsibilities that I have and attempt to comply to the best of my ability, or else. Thank you for guidance in this matter from YouTube. I found the link for this conference in one of the COPPA YouTube videos. I also was encouraged to comment as a YouTube creator (which I am) on the FTC COPPA website accordingly, which I did.
I would personally like to see a spirit of cooperation between developers and those crafting regulations for protection. The conference was a good step in this direction. A variety of opinions were exhibited. Thank you FTC for the COPPA venue. I listened and learned.
As a health care provider, I was just about put out of business by “Affordable” strategies which were great ideas but placed the responsibility on health care providers to supply more service, privacy, portability and accessibility benefits to patients. Needed. However, the benefits provided at my cost as a health care provider did not increase health care revenue flow. The regulations cost me lots of money and I received no subsidies for implementation.
In this case of online protection, I do not want to see creative products from developers fined and legislated to the point that we do not benefit from the good things they do. In other words: “Don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg.”
My Dad cautioned me against impulsivity: “Son, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Let’s deal with the bathwater but be kind to the “baby.” Please.
An aside: One benefit of watching the online symposium was the stop/start ability of the FTC video: I needed water breaks, bathroom breaks, and walking for exercise in the extensive “extravaganza.” “Good job,” to the moderators and panelists in the varied 3+ hour-long symposium.
Disclaimer: I am not a legal expert; I am simply a creator-citizen attempting to wrap my brain around the government concerns regarding internet safety for children and the resulting actions that I personally must undertake to remain within acceptable guidelines. If you feel like I misinterpreted or misunderstood one of the speakers, please specify and I will re-mediate. Hope this has helped.