Q: COPPA applies to websites or online services that are “directed to children.” What determines whether or not a website or online service is directed to children?
A: The amended Rule sets out a number of factors for determining whether a website or online service is directed to children. These include subject matter of the site or service, its visual content, the use of animated characters or child-oriented activities and incentives, music or other audio content, age of models, presence of child celebrities or celebrities who appeal to children, language or other characteristics of the website or online service, or whether advertising promoting or appearing on the website or online service is directed to children. The Rule also states that the Commission will consider competent and reliable empirical evidence regarding audience composition, as well as evidence regarding the intended audience of the site or service. See 16 C.F.R. § 312.2 (definition of “Web site or online service directed to children,” paragraph (1)).
As described in FAQ D.5 below, the amended Rule also considers a website or online service to be “directed to children” where it has actual knowledge that it is collecting personal information directly from users of another website or online service that is directed to children. See 16 C.F.R. § 312.2 (definition of “Web site or online service directed to children,” paragraph (2)).