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FTC Expands COPPA to Cover Apps, Exempts 'Platforms' Like App Store and Google Play

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today updated the privacy rules related to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act which was originally passed in 1998. The new rules reflect new types of platforms that children are using, like social media and mobile apps.

However, though apps themselves need to be sure to follow guidelines, app 'platforms' like Apple's App Store and Google Play, are explicitly exempted in the law. App stores are not required to verify that the apps they sell comply with the law; instead, it's up to individual developers to verify compliance.
Apple and Google Inc. protested the idea that they might be responsible for the collection of kids' data by apps they offer through their app stores. Apple made that point in five meetings with FTC officials in the fall. The FTC responded by explicitly exempting the Apple App Store and Google Play, the app store for mobile devices running Google's Android software, from having to make sure that the apps they provided complied with Coppa.
The FTC also exempted plug-ins like Facebook's "Like" button and Twitter's "Tweet" button that are used on thousands of websites around the world. Those companies only need to comply with Coppa if the company "knows or has reason to know" that the plug-in is being used on a website or app aimed at children.

Earlier this month, the FTC revealed that it was investigating kids apps over privacy concerns, with SpongeBob Diner Dash named as one app that was singled out for investigation.

Article Link: FTC Expands COPPA to Cover Apps, Exempts 'Platforms' Like App Store and Google Play
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,926
4,787
Wait, does the law actually specify companies / products that are exempt from the law?

It seems like laws that have to make specific exempts for specific companies are always flawed...
 
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zemoleman

macrumors member
Jul 23, 2008
51
15
Yonkers, NY
Apple and Google are abdicating their responsibility to insure that even a modicum of our activities with their devices and apps, especially those related to minor children, are afforded any privacy protection (and they are making money hand over fist with this info-sometimes I feel like an information battery in The Matrix the way they siphon intelligence from my activity). Really shameful that Apple would argue it is not responsible for offending apps--uh, last time I checked Apple's app approval process is supposed to weed out any end runs around the rules, so to claim ignorance is pretty lame.
 
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JAT

macrumors 603
Dec 31, 2001
6,473
124
Mpls, MN
Oh, this should be fun. 1000s of childless 18-25 year-olds debating whether parents should be in charge of what their children do. Too bad I don't eat popcorn, anymore.
 
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nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
Sounds like a remarkably practical exemption to me. I could easily have imagined the bureaucracy placing some impossible burden of proof and penalties on Apple/Google/etc. to verify that every little developer is compliant!
 
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Kaibelf

Suspended
Apr 29, 2009
2,445
7,436
Silicon Valley, CA
Apple and Google are abdicating their responsibility to insure that even a modicum of our activities with their devices and apps, especially those related to minor children, are afforded any privacy protection (and they are making money hand over fist with this info-sometimes I feel like an information battery in The Matrix the way they siphon intelligence from my activity). Really shameful that Apple would argue it is not responsible for offending apps--uh, last time I checked Apple's app approval process is supposed to weed out any end runs around the rules, so to claim ignorance is pretty lame.

Get over yourself. It's YOUR job as a parent to take care of your kid. It's not Apple's job to verify the intentions of the people who create things that YOU allow into your children's hands. Are you going to complain because grocery stores still stock food that's bad for them? As for the whole "save the children" thing, learn a few things: turn the channel, don't buy them everything they want, and pay some attention to what is going on in their lives.
 
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Earendil

macrumors 68000
Oct 27, 2003
1,549
0
Washington
Apple and Google are abdicating their responsibility to insure that even a modicum of our activities with their devices and apps, especially those related to minor children, are afforded any privacy protection (and they are making money hand over fist with this info-sometimes I feel like an information battery in The Matrix the way they siphon intelligence from my activity). Really shameful that Apple would argue it is not responsible for offending apps--uh, last time I checked Apple's app approval process is supposed to weed out any end runs around the rules, so to claim ignorance is pretty lame.

To be clear, this would just keep it from being a federal regulation and crime, Apple is still open to civil lawsuits all day long. When I go to Joe's hardware, I do not expect that Joe has personally inspected every item he sells to make sure it meets safe standards and federal regulations. Also, I do not expect the fed to regulate Joe and force him verify that his items meet all standards. Can I still sue Joe's ass? You bet I can.

Same goes for Apple or anyone else that resells another's product. Any company that is picky about what they sell is not doing so based on federal regulation, they are doing it because they want a better experience for their costumers.
 
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Marcus-k

macrumors regular
Nov 17, 2011
111
0
Get over yourself. It's YOUR job as a parent to take care of your kid. It's not Apple's job to verify the intentions of the people who create things that YOU allow into your children's hands. Are you going to complain because grocery stores still stock food that's bad for them? As for the whole "save the children" thing, learn a few things: turn the channel, don't buy them everything they want, and pay some attention to what is going on in their lives.

So it's the parents job to go through thousands of pages of code to make sure a game marketed directly to children does not collect personal data about said child?
 
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JHankwitz

macrumors 68000
Oct 31, 2005
1,907
58
Wisconsin
Apple and Google are abdicating their responsibility to insure that even a modicum of our activities with their devices and apps, especially those related to minor children, are afforded any privacy protection (and they are making money hand over fist with this info-sometimes I feel like an information battery in The Matrix the way they siphon intelligence from my activity). Really shameful that Apple would argue it is not responsible for offending apps--uh, last time I checked Apple's app approval process is supposed to weed out any end runs around the rules, so to claim ignorance is pretty lame.

Why should it be Apple's responsibility to do this? They have no control over the product's design, so should not be held responsible for it.
 
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Kaibelf

Suspended
Apr 29, 2009
2,445
7,436
Silicon Valley, CA
So it's the parents job to go through thousands of pages of code to make sure a game marketed directly to children does not collect personal data about said child?

It's a parent's job, if they are concerned about such things, to not use apps as a substitute for family time. Do you go to a chemist with a box of cereal to verify the sugar content? No. Do you exercise reasonable caution, and assume that the company producing the cereal made it with wheat instead of rat poison? Yes. If a company has an ingredient in that cereal that isn't listed on the box, do you go and blame the grocery store for offering it? No. That would be dumb.
 
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HMI

macrumors 6502a
May 23, 2012
544
29
To be clear, this would just keep it from being a federal regulation and crime, Apple is still open to civil lawsuits all day long. When I go to Joe's hardware, I do not expect that Joe has personally inspected every item he sells to make sure it meets safe standards and federal regulations. Also, I do not expect the fed to regulate Joe and force him verify that his items meet all standards. Can I still sue Joe's ass? You bet I can.

Well, I don't know which Joe you are referring to, and I probably wouldn't want to sue him, but if I were, I would definitely sue his wallet, not his ass!

Maybe that's just my opinion though!
 
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bacaramac

macrumors 65816
Dec 29, 2007
1,414
78
I think this is fair, I'm sure if Apple ran across a blatant issue with Privacy they would not approve the app. I don't think it's Apple's responsibility to ensure it meets all federal/state laws, it's the App dev that should do this.
 
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Marcus-k

macrumors regular
Nov 17, 2011
111
0
It's a parent's job, if they are concerned about such things, to not use apps as a substitute for family time. Do you go to a chemist with a box of cereal to verify the sugar content? No. Do you exercise reasonable caution, and assume that the company producing the cereal made it with wheat instead of rat poison? Yes. If a company has an ingredient in that cereal that isn't listed on the box, do you go and blame the grocery store for offering it? No. That would be dumb.

I always trust the ingredients label on food items, since they are required by law to be correct. (Like how children’s apps now are required to not track you)

And yes, i do blame the grocery store if they offer something which has a faulty ingredient list, since they are the ones responsible for selling it. That’s how it works in Sweden at least; we contact the retailer first instead of going directly to the manufacturer.
 
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ThisIsNotMe

Suspended
Aug 11, 2008
1,849
1,062
Apple and Google are abdicating their responsibility to insure that even a modicum of our activities with their devices and apps, especially those related to minor children, are afforded any privacy protection (and they are making money hand over fist with this info-sometimes I feel like an information battery in The Matrix the way they siphon intelligence from my activity). Really shameful that Apple would argue it is not responsible for offending apps--uh, last time I checked Apple's app approval process is supposed to weed out any end runs around the rules, so to claim ignorance is pretty lame.

What is shameful is people like you blaming Apple/Google instead of PARENTS who are responsible for their children's actions.

Than again when should I expect from the current state of the national filled with "everyone is responsible but me" citizens.
 
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macs4nw

macrumors 601
Get over yourself. It's YOUR job as a parent to take care of your kid. It's not Apple's job to verify the intentions of the people who create things that YOU allow into your children's hands. Are you going to complain because grocery stores still stock food that's bad for them? As for the whole "save the children" thing, learn a few things: turn the channel, don't buy them everything they want, and pay some attention to what is going on in their lives.

Not only that, but it's hard to imagine how APPLE or GOOGLE could be realistically expected to go with a fine tooth comb thru all the code in each of the thousands upon thousands of Apps submitted, without causing some serious backlog in App approvals. Which begs the next question: who is now going to check those Apps aimed at children for compliance with COPPA. Is the Fed going to do random checks, or are they going to wait until some questionable App behavior is accidentally exposed?
 
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1239689

Suspended
Oct 24, 2007
199
0
Ok as a parent I must say the ads in child apps are infuriating. Putting aside the moral, I am sick to death having to click the close button because my toddler has randomly clicked on an ad. She knows how to use an iPad but doesn't seem to realize the banners are not part of the game or story. Each time I close a failed in app purchase or the App Store because my child is having a tanty because the game or story vanished I get closer to deleting that app. I'm less interested in what she clicked on and more interested in deleting apps. I have the iPad child safetyfied as much as possible. I look forward to the immoral developer freaks being forced to remember what the real point of their app is. Apart from the obviouse superficial intension. I can't figure out how they think my child could even make a purchase even if I let her. As for me, my frustration puts me out of the purchasing mood.
 
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1239689

Suspended
Oct 24, 2007
199
0
It's a parent's job, if they are concerned about such things, to not use apps as a substitute for family time. Do you go to a chemist with a box of cereal to verify the sugar content? No. Do you exercise reasonable caution, and assume that the company producing the cereal made it with wheat instead of rat poison? Yes. If a company has an ingredient in that cereal that isn't listed on the box, do you go and blame the grocery store for offering it? No. That would be dumb.

We don't SUBSTITUDE family time. You should see the development in my child. We sit with her and learn on the iPad. She also has time to play with it on her own. After all part of parenting is allowing your child to learn independence and to learn to learn independently. She also spends lots of time with books, toys and other children. We do not hold their hand every minute of the day. You clearly don't have children.
 
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paulbennett95

macrumors 6502a
Aug 30, 2012
581
0
Long Island, NY
I agree it's the parents job to verify if something is safe for their children. But what do you expect from a society that genrally denies its own culpability and relies on the government for their needs...
We need some more rugged individualism in the world.
 
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JAT

macrumors 603
Dec 31, 2001
6,473
124
Mpls, MN
Not only that, but it's hard to imagine how APPLE or GOOGLE could be realistically expected to go with a fine tooth comb thru all the code in each of the thousands upon thousands of Apps submitted, without causing some serious backlog in App approvals. Which begs the next question: who is now going to check those Apps aimed at children for compliance with COPPA. Is the Fed going to do random checks, or are they going to wait until some questionable App behavior is accidentally exposed?
That's not what this is about. It is about Apple/Google getting out of the legal ramifications. If the FTC wants to go after spongebob apps, it has to go after the author, not the store. Apple already does more "combing" of apps than a lot of people like, we have plenty of stories about that.
Ok as a parent I must say the ads in child apps are infuriating. Putting aside the moral, I am sick to death having to click the close button because my toddler has randomly clicked on an ad. She knows how to use an iPad but doesn't seem to realize the banners are not part of the game or story. Each time I close a failed in app purchase or the App Store because my child is having a tanty because the game or story vanished I get closer to deleting that app. I'm less interested in what she clicked on and more interested in deleting apps. I have the iPad child safetyfied as much as possible. I look forward to the immoral developer freaks being forced to remember what the real point of their app is. Apart from the obviouse superficial intension. I can't figure out how they think my child could even make a purchase even if I let her. As for me, my frustration puts me out of the purchasing mood.
Well, yeah. So don't buy those games. Or scan them more yourself, if they are too much of a hassle before letting her get involved in the game. I'm a bit past that stage of parenting, but I watch very closely what my 10-14 yo kids have to play. Parental controls are in place on both iOS and Android.
 
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