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FTC Submits COPPA Report To Congress, Extends Comment Deadline For October “Stealth Advertising” Workshop – Privacy Protection



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On August 24, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or
Commission) submitted a report to the Congressional Committees on
Appropriations detailing current resources and personnel dedicated
to COPPA enforcement, the number of COPPA violation investigations
over the past five years, and the types of relief obtained in
completed investigations. The report was submitted in response to a
request by Congress under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of
2022.

The FTC report affirms that protecting children’s privacy
remains a Commission priority. The COPPA program is served by 9-11
full-time, dedicated staff members; staff from other divisions,
such as the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Division of Privacy
and Identity Protection, also work on COPPA issues. Between May 1,
2017 and May 1, 2022, the FTC opened 80 investigations of potential
COPPA violations. Over the last five years, the Commission has
expanded its remedies, such as requiring WW International/Kurbo to delete its
proprietary algorithms, or mandating that Google/YouTube re-review apps on its ad
exchange to identify and ban additional child-directed apps and to
track which apps and websites have been banned or removed from its
platform. Requiring companies to implement a comprehensive privacy
program, often subject to periodic, independent monitoring, is an
increasingly frequent element in enforcement agreements.

The Commission has also imposed larger fines for COPPA
violations. The FTC reports that “in six of the 10 cases
alleging violations of COPPA, the Commission obtained a civil
penalty of at least $1.5 million,” including a $170 million
fine in the Google/YouTube matter, “one of the largest civil
penalties ever obtained, worldwide, for a privacy
violation.”

The report ends with a plea for additional funding from
Congress: “The Commission makes every effort to use its
resources efficiently: as noted in recent testimony, ‘for FY
2021, every $1 of the FTC’s cost returned an estimated $36 in
FTC-provided benefits to consumers.’ With more resources,
however, the FTC could do more.”

On a related note, the FTC has extended its comment period for its upcoming
workshop on Protecting Kids From Stealth Advertising in
Digital Media
to be held October 19, 2022. The new deadline for
interested parties to submit comments is now November 18, 2022.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
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