Q: I know the COPPA Rule is triggered by the collection of personal information from children, but the information I collect at my site or service is voluntary, not mandatory. Does COPPA still apply?
A: Yes. The Rule governs the online collection of personal information from children by a covered operator, even if children volunteer the information or are not required by the operator to input the information to participate on the webssite or service. The Rule also covers operators that allow children publicly to post personal information. Finally, as the FTC made clear in the amended Rule, the passive tracking of children’s personal information through a persistent identifier, and not just its active collection, also is covered by COPPA. See 16 C.F.R. § 312.2 (definition of “collection”).