Last week, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act (“KOSA”), which would impose new safeguards, tools, and transparency requirements for minors online.  The bill applies to entities that are a “commercial software application or electronic service that connects to the internet and that is used, or is

2021 was another busy year for data privacy regulatory enforcement and litigation. With some distance to reflect on last year, we have prepared this post identifying and describing important trends from 2021 that can help provide insight into what to expect in the data privacy landscape in 2022.

Data Privacy Regulatory Enforcement Trends

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state enforcement action in 2021 centered on several key areas, including protecting children.

An FTC enforcement action last year alleged that the maker of an online coloring book application violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal information about children who used the app without notifying their parents and obtaining their consent.  The allegations note that the app included a “Kids” category that was targeted to children.  The FTC further claimed that the app’s social media features collected personal information from users and that some parents, lacking knowledge of these features, may have inadvertently permitted their young children to use the app.
Continue Reading 2021 Trends in Privacy Regulatory Enforcement and Litigation

One of every five people (20.5%) in Ireland are children under the age of 14.  This constitutes the highest proportion of children in the EU, where the average was 15.2% in 2019.  Ireland’s proportion of young people under the age of 30 is also the highest in the EU, at 39%.  It’s an influential figure for Irish policy makers and regulators, who have strengthened their approach to protection of children’s personal data in recent years.  This greater emphasis on children’s rights is due to a number of additional intersecting dynamics including EU law, child abuse scandals, a rise in cyberbullying, and a growing consensus that children face heightened digital risks.  These dynamics have also informed the planned establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner, currently advancing as part of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill just published and currently receiving strong media attention.

Together with the Irish DPC role as lead regulator for many leading technology and social media companies, these legal and cultural headwinds provide the context within which the DPC aims to develop strong child data protection standards.

Introduction

Following extensive public consultation, with experts as well as school children, the DPC has issued comprehensive guidance on the processing of children’s data.  Entitled “Children Front and Centre: Fundamentals for a Child-Oriented Approach to Data Processing,” the guidance sets out 14 principles (referred to as “the Fundamentals”) for organizations engaged in processing the personal data of children.

In addition to the usual GDPR expectations, the specific Fundamentals also include:

  • Zero interference with a child’s best interests, where organizations rely on legitimate interests as their legal basis for processing;
  • “Know your customer” requirements focusing on child-oriented transparency; and
  • Specific guidance around age verification and consent

The overall aim of the Fundamentals, in protecting the best interests of children, is to at least set a default floor of high standardised protection for all data subjects where children may form part of a mixed user audience.

Continue Reading Irish DPC Publishes Guidance On Processing Children’s Personal Data

On Episode 17 of Covington’s Inside Privacy Audiocast, Dan Cooper, Sam Choi, Danielle Kehl and Nick Shepherd discuss the developments related to children’s privacy, looking at relevant legislation, standards, and guidelines in the UK, the EU, and the U.S., and zooming in on some child-specific topics such as age thresholds and age verification,

On December 10th, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a Statement of Regulatory Priorities that announced the agency’s intent to initiate rulemakings on issues such as privacy, security, algorithmic decision-making, and unfair methods of competition.
Continue Reading FTC Announces Regulatory Priorities for Both Privacy and Competition

On 2 September 2021, the transition year for the Children’s code (or Age Appropriate Design Code) published by the UK Information Commissioner (“ICO”) ended. The ICO’s Children’s code was first published in September 2020, with a 12-month transition period. In an accompanying blog, the ICO has stated that it will be “proactive in requiring social media platforms, video and music streaming sites and the gaming industry to tell [the ICO] how their services are designed in line with the code.”

Over the summer, the ICO has also approved two certification schemes under the UK GDPR. The certification schemes provide organizations with a mechanism to demonstrate their high level of commitment to data protection compliance.

Continue Reading UK ICO’s Children’s Code Transition Year Ends and ICO Approves Related Certification Schemes

Yesterday, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced an updated version of the “Protecting the Information of our Vulnerable Children and Youth Act” (Kids PRIVCY Act), which would make broad changes the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  Rep. Castor introduced a similar bill in early 2020, but it stalled alongside other proposals to overhaul the federal children’s privacy law last year.
Continue Reading Rep. Castor Reintroduces Bill to Rewrite the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

On June 9, 2021, the French Supervisory Authority (“CNIL”) published recommendations to help strengthen the protection of minors online (see here, in French).  These recommendations are the result of a survey and public consultation conducted by the CNIL in 2020, which focused on the digital practices of minors (see our blog post here).  The results of the CNIL’s survey and public consultation indicate that children are accessing the Internet at an early age on a “massive” scale.  In light of this reality, the CNIL underscores the importance of ensuring that minors benefit from the effective protection of their personal data when engaging online.

Continue Reading French CNIL Publishes Recommendations for Protecting Minors Online

This week, Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act, which would update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  COPPA is the comprehensive federal children’s privacy law enacted in 1998 that regulates the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information online from children under 13.
Continue Reading Senators Markey and Cassidy Introduce Bill to Update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

In January 2021, the French Supervisory Authority (“CNIL”) published a summary report of contributions it received in response to a public consultation and survey on the digital rights of minors launched in April 2020 (see the press release here and a summary report here, both in French).  Stakeholders who responded to the consultation included companies, professionals dedicated to the legal and educational issues related to children, parents and minors.

Continue Reading French Supervisory Authority Publishes Results of Public Consultation on the Digital Rights of Minors