FTC COPPA FAQs - I operate an advertising network service. Under what circumstances will I be held to have “actual knowledge” that I have collected personal information directly from users of another website or online service directed to children?

Compliance > COPPA
Q:  I operate an advertising network service.  Under what circumstances will I be held to have “actual knowledge” that I have collected personal information directly from users of another website or online service directed to children?
 
A:  The circumstances under which you will be deemed to have acquired “actual knowledge” that you have collected personal information directly from users of a child-directed site or service will depend a lot on the particular facts of your situation.  In the 2012 Statement of Basis and Purpose, the Commission set forth two cases where it believes that the actual knowledge standard will likely be met: 
  1. where a child-directed content provider (which is strictly liable for any collection) directly communicates the child-directed nature of its content to you, the ad network; or 
     
  2. where a representative of your ad network recognizes the child-directed nature of the content. 
Under the first scenario, any direct communications that the child-directed provider has with you that indicate the child-directed nature of its content would give rise to actual knowledge.  In addition, if a formal industry standard or convention is developed through which a site or service could signal its child-directed status to you, that would give rise to actual knowledge.  Under the second scenario, whether a particular individual can obtain actual knowledge on behalf of your business depends on the facts.  Prominently disclosing on your site or service methods by which individuals can contact your business with COPPA information – such as: 1) contact information for designated individuals, 2) a specific phone number, and/or 3) an online form or email address – will reduce the likelihood that you would be deemed to have gained actual knowledge through other employees.  (See also FAQ D.12 below).
 
 
 
 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
This information was obtained from the FTC’s webpage on “Complying with COPPA:  Frequently Asked Questions.”   https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/complying-coppa-frequently-asked-questions

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