The FTC has approved a safe harbor program under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) called iKeepSafe.
Created by the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, iKeepSafe "will help expand the implementation of the recently amended COPPA Rule, and we look forward to working with iKeepSafe and the other safe harbor programs to provide important protections for children's online privacy," according to a letter from the FTC.
According to the COPPA rule, websites and online services aimed at children younger than 13 must post privacy policies, notify parents concerning data collecting and usage, and obtain parental consent prior to data collection.
The updated COPPA provisions encourage self-regulation under a safe harbor program.
"Website operators that participate in an approved COPPA safe harbor program will, in most circumstances, be subject to the review and disciplinary procedures provided in the safe harbor's guidelines in lieu of formal FTC investigation and law enforcement," the FTC explained in a statement announcing the approval of the iKeepSafe program.
iKeepSafe is a nonprofit alliance that tracks global trends and researches digitally connected products and their effects on children. This research allows for more resources for educators and parents to teach children to use media devices safely and effectively.
According to its website, iKeepSafe's mission is:
To give parents, educators, and policymakers the information and tools which empower them to teach children the safe and healthy use of technology and the internet.
iKeepSafe has a variety of online tools and products that help assist with Internet safety. Digital Citizenship assists educators in integrating cybersafety into their curriculum. Faux Paw the Techno Cat offers a series of books and DVDs related to internet safety and cyberbullying, among other topics. Another popular tool is the Google Digital Literacy Tour, which offers a series of workshops to educate students, parents, and teachers on cyber safety through hands-on scenarios.
Public comments were asked for by the FTC concerning iKeepSafe last March. Four comments were given. Two expressed "strong support" for the approval of the site. One suggested the application had "permissive" language, which has since been changed. The other was concerned about iKeepSafe's credentials. The FTC responded to those concerns by stating, "iKeepSafe and its compliance partner, Playwell, have many years of experience in children's privacy."
iKeepSafe is one of seven programs approved by the FTC on their website. It is the second to be approved since the update to the COPPA Rule.