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FTC Seeks Comment on New Parental Consent Mechanism Under COPPA

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking comment on an application from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and others for a new mechanism for obtaining parental consent under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule.

ESRB, which currently operates a COPPA safe harbor program, was joined in its application by Yoti, a digital identity company, and SuperAwesome, which provides technology to help companies comply with parental verification requirements. The companies have requested approval for the use of “Privacy-Protective Facial Age Estimation” technology, which analyzes the geometry of a user’s face to confirm that they are an adult.

Under the COPPA Rule, online sites and services directed to children under 13 must obtain parental consent before collecting or using personal information from a child. The Rule lays out a number of acceptable methods for gaining parental consent but also includes a provision allowing interested parties to submit new verifiable parental consent methods to the Commission for approval.

In a Federal Register notice, which will be published soon, the FTC is seeking comment on a number of questions related to the application including whether the proposed age verification method is covered by existing methods; whether the proposed method meets the requirements under the COPPA Rule; and whether the proposed method poses a privacy risk to consumers’ personal information, including their biometric information. The public will have 30 days to submit a comment after the notice is published in the Federal Register. After they are submitted, comments will be posted to Regulations.gov.

NOTE: Publication of this Federal Register notice is required by the Rule and does not indicate Commission approval or endorsement of the program. The Commission has 120 days to review proposed verifiable parental consent methods and must set forth its conclusions in writing.

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