Posts in Children’s Privacy.
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On April 7, 2024, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released a discussion draft of the latest federal privacy proposal, known as American Privacy Rights Act (“APRA” or the “Act”). The APRA builds upon the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (“ADPPA”), which was introduced as H.R. 8152 in the 117th Congress and advanced out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee but did not become law. As the latest iteration of a federal privacy proposal, the APRA signals that some members of Congress continue to seek to create a federal standard in the wake of—and in spite of—the ever-growing patchwork of state privacy laws.

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On April 9, 2024, Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA 2.0.”) The bill serves as a companion to the Senate bill by the same name.

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The Connecticut Attorney General’s Office (“OAG”) has released a Report on the status of Connecticut’s Data Privacy Act (“CTDPA”), which took effect on July 1, 2023. The Report covers complaints, inquiries, and early enforcement activities under the CTDPA.

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On April 12, 2024, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) launched the third installment in its consultation series examining how data protection law applies to the development and use of generative AI. This installment focuses on how the data protection principle of accuracy applies to the outputs of generative AI models, and the impact that accurate training data has on the output. The two previous installments discussed the lawful basis for web scraping to train generative AI models, and purpose limitation in the generative AI lifecycle. 

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On March 20, 2024, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that will prohibit data brokers from transferring U.S. residents’ sensitive personal data to foreign adversaries, including China and Russia. The House bill HR 7520 (the “Bill”), also known as the Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Adversaries Act of 2024, marks a significant development in executive and legislative action related to foreign access to U.S. data. The Bill follows a similarly groundbreaking Executive Order and Department of Justice Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued at the end of February that will establish strict protective measures against data exploitation by countries considered national security threats for U.S. sensitive personal data and U.S. government-related data. The Bill also comes after the House overwhelmingly passed HR 7521, (the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act) resulting from concerns that the Chinese government would compel TikTok (or other foreign adversary-controlled apps) to turn over U.S. data. HR 7521 would effectively require TikTok to divest from parent company ByteDance in order to avoid a ban in the U.S.

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On March 1, 2024, the Virginia legislature passed S.B. 361 (the “Bill”), which amends the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act to introduce new protections for children’s privacy. If signed by the Virginia Governor, the new children’s privacy protections will go into effect on January 1, 2025.

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On March 8, 2024, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership at Hunton Andrews Kurth (“CIPL”) filed its response to the Federal Trade Commission’s notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”), which addresses amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA Rule”).

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Last week, Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox signed three privacy-related bills into law. The bills are focused on, respectively, protection of motor vehicle consumer data, regulations on social media companies with respect to minors, and access to protected health information by third parties. The Utah legislature appears to be focused on data-related legislation this session, as Governor Cox signed two other bills related to AI into law last week as well.

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On February 13, 2024, New York Attorney General (“NY AG”) Letitia James and New York State Education Department Commissioner (“NYSED”) Betty A. Rosa announced that College Board has agreed to settle charges in connection with allegations that it violated New York Education Law § 2-d, New York’s student privacy law. 

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On February 12, 2024, California bill AB-1949 was referred to the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection. The bill would amend the California Consumer Privacy Act (as amended by the California Privacy Rights Act) (the “CCPA”) to significantly expand businesses’ obligations with respect to the personal information of consumers under the age of 18.

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On February 12, 2024, a federal court in the Southern District of Ohio issued an order granting a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, prohibiting the Ohio Attorney General from implementing and enforcing the Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act, Ohio Rev. Code § 1349.09(B)(1) (the “Act”).

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On February 15, 2024, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) announced the addition of co-sponsors Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) Chair and Ranking Member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to an updated version of the proposed Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA 2.0”) bill. The bill contains what the sponsors call “small modifications based on conversations with stakeholders and additional technical corrections.”

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On February 8, 2024, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) announced the priority topics for its inspections in 2024.  

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Hunton Andrews Kurth is hosting a webinar discussing the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (i.e., the COPPA Rule) on February 20, 2024, at 12:00 p.m. (ET). Hunton partners Phyllis Marcus and Lisa Sotto will discuss the FTC’s recent proposal to strengthen federal protections for children’s privacy and the implications of the new changes, if enacted, for organizations. Register for the program now.

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On January 9, 2024, an Ohio federal judge placed a temporary restraining order on Ohio’s Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act, Ohio Rev. Code § 1349.09(B)(1) (the “Act”), which was approved in July 2023 and was set to go into effect on January 15,2024. Under the Act, parents must provide consent for children under 16 to set up an account on social media and online gaming platforms. The platform operators must also provide parents with a list of content moderation features.

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On January 18, 2024, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published an updated Opinion on age assurance for the Children’s Code (the “Opinion”). The Children’s Code is a statutory code of practice setting out how information society services likely to be accessed by children should protect children’s information rights online.

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On December 20, 2023, the FTC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Notice”), which would bring long-anticipated changes to the children’s online data privacy regime at the federal level in the U.S. The Notice sets forth several important proposals aimed at strengthening the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (“COPPA Rule”). The COPPA Rule has not been updated since 2012. The FTC received over 176,000 comments in response to its call to comment on updating the COPPA Rule.

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On October 26, 2023, the UK Online Safety Act (the “Act”) received Royal Assent, making it law in the UK. The Act seeks to protect children from online harm and imposes obligations on relevant organizations, including social media platforms, to prevent and remove illegal and harmful content. In a press release, the UK Government stated that the Act “takes a zero-tolerance approach to protecting children from online harm, while empowering adults with more choices over what they see online.” For example, the Act requires relevant organizations to:

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On October 18, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed an appeal to overturn a preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last month that prevents the enforcement of the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (“CA AADC”). The appeal was submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and marks an important step in assessing the potential progress of the CA AADC.

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On September 14, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission issued a press release announcing the publication of a staff paper about blurred advertising. In the staff paper, the FTC describes blurred advertising as the blending of ads with digital media content (e.g., displaying ads within online games and virtual reality worlds). The FTC warns that these ads are not readily identifiable as marketing by consumers and pose a significant threat to young children who do not have the skills or cognitive defenses to identify and understand this type of advertising. The FTC recommends that ...

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On July 5, 2023, Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine, signed into law House Bill 33, which includes the Social Media Parental Notification Act (“Act”).

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On September 15, 2023, the Irish Data Protection Commission (the “DPC”) announced a fine of 345 million Euros against TikTok Technology Limited (“TikTok”) for non-compliance with GDPR rules regarding the processing of personal data of child users. This decision by the DPC reflects the binding decision of the European Data Protection Board (the “EDPB”) pursuant to Article 65 of the GDPR.

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On September 18, 2023, Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted NetChoice’s request for preliminary injunction in NetChoice v. Bonta, finding that NetChoice is likely to succeed on its claim that the California Age-Appropriate Design Code (“CA AADC”) violates the First Amendment. Specifically, the Court found that, as a speech restriction, the CA AADC would likely fail both strict scrutiny and a lesser standard of scrutiny. The preliminary injunction blocks the CA AADC from going into effect until the case is ...

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On August 31, 2023, NetChoice, a national trade association of large online businesses, filed supplemental briefing in its challenge to the California Age-Appropriate Design Code (“CA AADC”). The success or failure of NetChoice’s lawsuit will determine whether companies need to be CA AADC-compliant on July 1, 2024 when the law is anticipated to take effect.

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On September 5, 2023, all 50 state attorneys general and four attorneys general from U.S. territories urged Congress to take action on the use of artificial intelligence (“AI”) to exploit children. In their letter to Congress, the AGs address how AI can be used to exploit children, including tracking children’s location, mimicking them and generating child sexual abuse materials such as deepfakes. Based on these concerns, the AGs collectively request that Congress establish an expert commission to study the means and methods of how AI can be used to exploit children. The AGs ...

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On September 7, 2023, Lina M. Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, announced that the FTC will hold an open meeting virtually at 11 am ET on Thursday, September 14, 2023.  The agenda of the open meeting includes a vote by the FTC on whether to release a staff perspective and recommendations on the blurring of advertising and content on digital media and its effects on children and teens.

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On July 10, 2023, California Governor Newsom signed into law A.B. 127, which places the working group for the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (the “Act”) under the California Office of the Attorney General. The Act creates a working group, formally named the California Children’s Data Protection Working Group, to produce a report on recommendations for best practices concerning children’s access to online services. Under A.B. 127, the deadline for the first report from the working group will be pushed back from January 1, 2024, to July 1, 2024, and the working group will be required to consist of only nine members, instead of the original 10-member requirement.

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On June 2 and June 5, 2023, the Connecticut and Nevada state legislatures, respectively, voted in favor of sending legislation to their governors for signature that would impose restrictions, among others, on the processing of consumer health data, including geofencing provisions.  Nevada S.B. 370 was signed by Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo on June 16, 2023. These bills contain provisions similar to Washington’s My Health My Data Act and expand on protections in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and other privacy laws.

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On June 13, 2023, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed H.B. 18, or the Securing Children Online through Parental Empowerment (“SCOPE”) Act that would impose obligations on digital service providers to protect minors.

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On June 13, 2023, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed H.B. 18, or the Securing Children Online through Parental Empowerment (“SCOPE”) Act that would require digital service providers to get parental consent to create an account with minors younger than 18 years of age.  

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On May 31, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission announced a proposed order against home security camera company Ring LLC (“Ring”) for unfair and deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

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On May 22, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission filed an amicus brief in support of a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that COPPA does not preempt state laws claims that are consistent with COPPA.

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On May 22, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission announced a proposed order against education technology provider Edmodo, LLC (“Edmodo”) for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA Rule”) and Section 5 of the FTC Act.

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On April 4, 2023, the data protection regulator of the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), issued a fine of a £12.7 million to TikTok Information Technologies UK Limited and TikTok Inc (together, “TikTok”) for a number of breaches of UK data protection law, including failing to use children’s personal data lawfully. 

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On February 16, 2023, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership (“CIPL”) at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP held a virtual roundtable to discuss the role of age assurance and age verification tools as part of its Children’s Data Privacy Project. Representatives from CIPL member companies, data protection authorities, civil society and experts exchanged views on the effectiveness of different methodologies and emerging best practices to shield minors from harmful or inappropriate content.

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On February 14, 2023, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing titled, “Protecting Our Children Online.” Chaired by Sen. Durbin, the hearing examined the potentially harmful effects of social media use on young people, and represented a renewal of the Committee’s efforts to pass legislation to protect children and teenagers online. In 2022, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved several bills designed to enhance the online safety and wellbeing of children and teenagers, among them the Kids Online Protection Act (“KOSA”), but the bills did not receive a floor vote. During the hearing, Democratic and Republican senators expressed their commitment to pass bills that would limit the immunity of social media companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and would require website and app developers to design products that protect young people from cyberbullying, online sexual exploitation, social media addiction, and other harms. 

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On December 19, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced two settlements, amounting to $520 million, with Epic Games, Inc. in connection with alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (the “COPPA Rule”) and alleged use of “dark patterns” relating to in-game purchases.

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On December 6, 2022, the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) announced that it will hold a virtual public meeting to discuss the status of the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (“CPRA”) rulemaking process and other topics. Anticipated topics for discussion include:

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On November 21, 2022, Meta Platforms, Inc. (“Meta”) announced updated practices designed to protect the privacy of young people on Facebook and Instagram, including default privacy settings for new accounts, measures to limit unwanted interactions with adult users, and a tool to limit the spread of teens’ intimate images online.

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On November 21, 2022, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership (“CIPL”) at Hunton Andrews Kurth filed comments on the Federal Trade Commission’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”) on commercial surveillance and data security. The ANPR sought public comment on, among other things, whether the FTC should implement new rules addressing the ways in which companies collect, aggregate, protect, use, analyze and retain consumer data.

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On October 26, 2022, House Energy and Commerce Committee and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee leaders (“Committee Leaders”) sent letters to several toy manufacturers, including Bandai Namco, Hasbro, Mattel, MGA Entertainment, LEGO Group and the Toy Association, asking how they plan to protect children and their information from BigTech companies like TikTok and YouTube. Given the shift of marketing efforts from traditional television outlets to social media platforms, Committee Leaders are concerned about failure to protect children’s privacy, security and mental health on social media platforms.

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On November 1, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission hosted their annual PrivacyCon 2022, which was available to the public via webcast. The FTC held seven different panels highlighting the latest research and trends in consumer privacy and data security.

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On  November 2, 2022, the ICO issued to the UK Department for Education (“DfE”) a formal reprimand following an investigation into the sharing of personal data stored on the Learning Records Service (“LRS”), a database which provides a record of pupils’ qualifications that the DfE has overall responsibility for. The investigation found that the DfE’s poor due diligence meant the LRS database was being used by Trust Systems Software UK Ltd (trading as Trustopia), a third party screening firm, to check whether people opening online gambling accounts were 18. Trustopia was found to have had access from September 2018 to January 2020, during which it performed over 20,000 searches on children whose personal data was in the LRS database.

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On October 25, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced the agenda for its annual PrivacyCon to be held on November 1, 2022. The event will cover consumer surveillance, automated decision-making systems, children’s privacy, listening devices, augmented and virtual reality, interfaces and dark patterns, and AdTech.

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On September 23, 2022, New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes introduced S9563, also known as the “New York Child Data Privacy and Protection Act.” The bill, which resembles the recently passed California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, bans certain data collection and targeted advertising and requires data controllers to, among other obligations, assess the impact of their products on children.

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On September 21, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced a proposed combined fine of $3.4 million against Sinclair Broadcast Group, Nexstar Media Group and 19 other broadcast television licensees for violations of rules limiting commercial matter in children's television programming.

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On September 26, 2022, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) confirmed in a statement that it issued TikTok Inc. and TikTok Information Technologies UK Limited (together, “TikTok”) a notice of intent to potentially impose a £27 million fine for failing to protect children’s privacy. This notice of intent follows an investigation by the ICO finding that TikTok may have breached UK data protection law between May 2018 and July 2020 by failing to protect children’s privacy when using the TikTok platform.

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On September 21, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced the agenda for its “Protecting Kids from Stealth Advertising in Digital Media” virtual event to be held on October 19, 2022. The event will cover how children recognize and understand digital advertising content; the current advertising landscape’s impact on kids, including potential harms stemming from an inability to distinguish advertising from other content; and an assessment of the current legal regime’s protection of children from potential harms, and whether additional regulatory, self-regulatory, educational and technological tools may provide additional protection.

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On September 7, 2022, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”) of BBB National Programs announced its finding that Tilting Point Media, LLC (“Tilting Point”), owner and operator of the SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off app (the “App”), violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and CARU’s Self-Regulatory Guidelines for Advertising and for Children’s Online Privacy Protection (“CARU’s Guidelines”). CARU has recommended a variety of corrective actions with respect to Tilting Point’s advertising and privacy practices.

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On September 15, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (the “Act”). The Act, which takes effect July 1, 2024, places new legal obligations on companies with respect to online products and services that are “likely to be accessed by children” under the age of 18.

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On September 5, 2022, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (the “DPC”) imposed a €405,000,000 fine on Instagram (a Meta-owned social media platform) for violations of the EU General Data Protection Regulation’s (“GDPR’s”) rules on the processing of children’s personal data.

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On August 29, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission released the agenda for its virtual public forum on the Commercial Surveillance and Data Security Advanced Notice of Public Rulemaking. The forum, to be held on September 8, 2022, seeks “public comment on the harms stemming from commercial surveillance and lax data security practices and whether new rules are needed to protect people’s privacy and information.” As we previously reported, the forum intends to discuss to what extent commercial surveillance practices or lax security measures harm consumers, including children and teenagers; how the FTC should balance the costs and benefits of existing or emergent commercial surveillance and data security practices and rules that would address them; and how, if at all, the FTC should regulate harmful commercial surveillance or data security practices.

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On August 25, 2022, the FTC issued its Federal Trade Commission Report to Congress on COPPA Staffing, Enforcement and Remedies. The document was prepared in response to the joint explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, which directed the FTC to provide a report detailing (1) the current amount of resources and personnel focused on enforcing the COPPA Rule; (2) the number of investigations into violations of the COPPA Rule in the past five years; and (3) the types of relief obtained, if any, for completed COPPA investigations.

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On August 23, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced it is seeking additional public comment on “how children are affected by digital advertising and marketing messages that may blur the line between ads and entertainment” in conjunction with its “Protecting Kids from Stealth Advertising in Digital Media” event on October 19, 2022. The event will focus on manipulative marketing practices targeted towards children, particularly those related to influencer marketing and online games.

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On July 20, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce (the “Committee”) passed H.R. 8152, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (“ADPPA”) (as amended), by a vote of 53-2. The ADPPA next will be put before the full House for a vote.

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On July 1, 2022, the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) sent U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi a memo outlining how H.R. 8152, the bipartisan American Data Privacy and Protection Act (“ADPPA” or the “Act”), would lessen privacy protections for Californians, and California Democrats have joined the cause.

The CPPA’s memo asserts that the ADPPA, by preempting the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”) and other state privacy laws, proposes to eliminate:

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On July 6, 2022, the Better Business Bureau National Programs’ Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”) announced that it had found Outright Games in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and CARU’s Self-Regulatory Guidelines for Advertising and Guidelines for Children’s Online Privacy Protection. Outright Games owns and operates the Bratz Total Fashion Makeover app, which CARU determined to be a “mixed audience” child-directed app subject to COPPA and CARU’s Guidelines due to the app’s subject matter, bright colors, visual content, lively audio and gameplay features.

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On July 11, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection issued a business alert on businesses’ handling of sensitive data, with a particular focus on location and health data. The alert describes the “opaque” marketplace in which consumers’ location and health  data is collected and exchanged amongst businesses and the concerns and risks associated with the processing of such information. The alert specifically focuses on the “potent combination” of location data and user-generated health and biometric data (e.g., through the use of wellness and fitness apps and the sharing of face and other biometric data for app/device authentication purposes). According to the alert, the combination of location and health data “creates a new frontier of potential harms to consumers.”

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On June 16, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report to Congress titled Combatting Online Harms Through Innovation (the “Report”) that urges policymakers and other stakeholders to exercise “great caution” about relying on artificial intelligence (“AI”) to combat harmful online content.

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On June 3, 2022, House Energy and Commerce Chair Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) released a new comprehensive federal privacy bill, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (“ADPPA”).

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On May 19, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission will hold a virtual open meeting. The meeting’s tentative agenda includes a vote by the FTC on a policy statement prioritizing the enforcement of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) as it applies to the use of education technology. In response to the expanded use of education technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, the policy statement clarifies that parents and schools must not be required to sign up for surveillance as a condition of access to tools needed to learn. Members of the public who would like to ...
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On May 10, 2022, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed An Act Concerning Personal Data Privacy and Online Monitoring, after the law was previously passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in April. Connecticut is now the fifth state to enact a consumer privacy law.

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On April 23, 2022, the European Commission announced that the European Parliament and EU Member States had reached consensus on the Digital Services Act (“DSA”), which establishes accountability standards for online platforms regarding illegal and harmful content.

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On April 19, 2022, the California state legislature and an industry self-regulatory group each separately took steps to enhance online privacy protections for children who are not covered by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), which applies only to personal information collected online from children under the age of 13.

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On March 25, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois approved a $1.1 million settlement with TikTok Inc. (“TikTok”) to resolve claims that TikTok collected children’s data and sold it to third parties without parental consent. The plaintiffs sued TikTok in 2019, alleging that TikTok did not seek verifiable parental consent prior to collecting personal information of children under 13 on the popular video platform in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The complaint further alleged that TikTok disclosed and sold user data, including lip-syncing videos created by children who used a TikTok-affiliated app called Musical.ly, to third parties, without parental consent. The $1.1 million settlement will be distributed among class members, who consist of U.S. users who, prior to the settlement’s effective date and while under the age of 13, registered for or used TikTok or Musical.ly.

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On March 2, 2022, eight states announced a bipartisan, nationwide investigation into whether TikTok operates in a way that causes or exacerbates harm to the physical and mental health of children, teens and young adults. The probe will further consider whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

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On March 1, 2022, President Biden, in his first State of the Union address, called on Congress to strengthen privacy protections for children, including by banning online platforms from excessive data collection and targeted advertising for children and young people. President Biden called for these heightened protections as part of his unity agenda to address the nation’s mental health crisis, especially the growing concern about the harms of digital technologies, particularly social media, to the mental health and well-being of children and young people. President Biden not only urged for stronger protections for children’s data and privacy, but also for interactive digital service providers to prioritize safety-by-design standards and practices. In his address, President Biden called on online platforms to “prioritize and ensure the health, safety and well-being of children and young people above profit and revenue in the design of their products and services.” President Biden also called for a stop to “discriminatory algorithmic decision-making that limits opportunities” and impacts the mental well-being of children and young people.

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The Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with WW International, Inc. and Kurbo, Inc. over allegations the companies improperly registered children for the “Kurbo by WW” online weight loss management program. In pleadings filed on February 16, 2022, in federal court in the Northern District of California, the FTC claims WW and Kurbo offered a service that was tailored for children but that failed to ensure parental involvement in the registration process. According to the FTC, the defendants created an age gate that children could easily evade, and that ...
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On February 18, 2022, the Texas Attorney General’s Office (the “Texas AG”) announced that it had issued two Civil Investigative Demands (“CIDs”) to TikTok Inc. The Texas AG’s investigation focuses on TikTok’s alleged violations of children’s privacy and facilitation of human trafficking, along with other potential unlawful conduct.

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On January 7, 2022, U.S. Representatives Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, wrote to all of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) Safe Harbor programs to request information about each program to ensure “participants in the program are fulfilling their legal obligations to provide ‘substantially the same or greater protections for children’ as those detailed in the COPPA Rule” and “to solicit feedback” regarding “ways in which Congress can strengthen COPPA and the COPPA Rule.”

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On December 15, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission announced a $2 million settlement with OpenX Technologies (“OpenX”) in connection with alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (“COPPA Rule”) and the FTC Act. According to the FTC’s complaint, OpenX knowingly collected personal information from children under age 13 without parental consent, and collected geolocation data from users of all ages who opted out of being tracked.

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On November 17, 2021, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held its confirmation hearing on FTC Commissioner nominee, Alvaro Bedoya.

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On October 8, 2021, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Representatives Kathy Castor (D-Fla) and Lori Trahan (D-Mass) penned a letter to Chair of the Federal Trade Commission Lina Khan, urging the agency to ensure that companies uphold the commitments made in their children’s privacy notices and “hold them accountable if they fail to do so.” In the letter, the lawmakers noted that many technology companies have recently announced updates to their respective platforms’ policies that are intended to enhance children and teen protections in compliance with the UK’s Age Appropriate Design Code (“AADC”), which took effect on September 2, 2021.

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On September 29 and 30, 2021, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation convened hearings on how to better protect consumer and children’s privacy.

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On September 14, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission authorized new compulsory process resolutions in eight key enforcement areas: (1) Acts or Practices Affecting United States Armed Forces Members and Veterans; (2) Acts or Practices Affecting Children; (3) Bias in Algorithms and Biometrics; (4) Deceptive and Manipulative Conduct on the Internet; (5) Repair Restrictions; (6) Abuse of Intellectual Property; (7) Common Directors and Officers and Common Ownership; and (8) Monopolization Offenses.

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On August 25, 2021, New Mexico Attorney General (“AG”) Hector Balderas sued Rovio Entertainment (“Rovio” or the “Company”), the developer of the popular Angry Birds mobile app games, alleging that the Company violated the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by knowingly collecting data from players under age 13 and sharing it with advertisers. Under COPPA, developers of child-directed apps are required to provide notice to parents of their data collection practices and obtain verifiable parental consent to collect personal information from children under 13.

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On August 19, 2021, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) approved the criteria for three certification schemes, as required under Article 42(5) of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (“UK GDPR”). Certification schemes are one method for organizations to demonstrate compliance with the UK GDPR.

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The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”), a part of a part of the Better Business Bureau National Programs (“BBBNP”), released its revised Children’s Advertising Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) earlier this month. The Guidelines, which contain some notable changes, will go into effect in January 2022.

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On July 29, 2021, U.S. Representative Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Florida), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, reintroduced the Protecting the Information of our Vulnerable Children and Youth Act (the “Bill”). The Bill would update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) to, among other requirements: (1) cover teens ages 13-17; (2) expand the categories of information considered to be “personal” (to include physical characteristics, biometric information, health information, education information, contents of messages and calls, browsing and search history, geolocation information, and latent audio or visual recordings); (3) prohibit companies from targeting online advertising to children and teens based on their personal information and behavior; (4) require opt-in consent to process personal information collected from all individuals under age 18; (5) strengthen Federal Trade Commission enforcement of COPPA; (6) provide a private right of action to parents of children and teens; and (7) eliminate the FTC’s recognition of self-regulatory COPPA safe harbor programs.

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On June 29, 2021, the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS”) published guidance for businesses on child online safety, which includes guidance on data protection and privacy, age-appropriate content, positive user interactions, and protecting children from online sexual exploitation and abuse.

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On July 22, 2021, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (“Dutch DPA”) announced that it had imposed a €750,000 fine on TikTok for violating the privacy of young children namely for the company’s alleged lack of transparency.

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On July 1, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission settled a complaint brought under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) against Toronto-based Kuuhuub Inc. and its Finnish subsidiaries Kuu Hubb Oy and Recolor Oy, operators of the online coloring book app, Recolor. The FTC alleged that the app operators violated the COPPA Rule by collecting and disclosing personal information from child users of the app without first notifying their parents or obtaining verifiable parental consent.

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On May 11, 2021, Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (the “Bill”). The Bill, which would amend the existing Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), would prohibit companies from collecting personal information from children ages 13 to 15 without their consent.

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On April 29, 2021, China issued a second version of the draft Personal Information Protection Law (“Draft PIPL”). The Draft PIPL will be open for public comments until May 28, 2021.

While the framework of this version of the Draft PIPL is the same as the prior version issued on October 21, 2020, below we summarize the material changes in the second version of the Draft PIPL.

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On March 26, 2021, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership (“CIPL”) at Hunton Andrews Kurth submitted its comments on the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s (“DPC”) draft guidance on safeguarding the personal data of children when providing online services, “Children Front and Centre—Fundamentals for a Child-Oriented Approach to Data Processing” (the “Draft Guidance”).

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On December 22, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation that temporarily bans the use or purchase of facial recognition and other biometric identifying technology in public and private schools until at least July 1, 2022. The legislation also directs the New York Commissioner of Education (the “Commissioner”) to conduct a study on whether this technology is appropriate for use in schools.

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On November 27, 2020, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in the lawsuit it brought against Google on February 20, 2020, regarding alleged violations of the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) in connection with G-Suite for Education (“GSFE”). As we previously reported, the U.S. District Court of New Mexico had granted Google’s motion to dismiss, in which it asserted that its terms governed the collection of data through GSFE and that it had complied with COPPA by using schools both as “intermediaries” and as the parent’s agent for parental notice and consent, in line with Federal Trade Commission Guidance.

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On September 25, 2020, the District Court of New Mexico granted Google’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed on February 20, 2020, by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas alleging, among other claims, that the company violated the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA” or the “Act”) by using G Suite for Education to “spy on New Mexico students’ online activities for its own commercial purposes, without notice to parents and without attempting to obtain parental consent.”

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UPDATE: On September 29, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed AB 1138.

On September 8, 2020, AB 1138, the Parent’s Accountability and Child Protection Act, was enrolled and presented to the California Governor for signature. If signed into law by the Governor, the bill would require a business that operates a social media website or application, beginning July 1, 2021, to obtain verifiable parental consent for California-based children that the business “actually knows” are under 13 years of age (hereafter, “Children”). The bill defines “social media” to mean an electronic service or account held open to the general public to post, on either a public or semi-public page dedicated to a particular user, electronic content or communication, including but not limited to videos, photos or messages intended to facilitate the sharing of information, ideas, personal messages or other content.

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The Age Appropriate Design Code (the “code”) created by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (the “ICO”) has completed the Parliamentary process and was issued by the ICO on August 12, 2020. It will come into force on September 2, 2020, with a 12-month transition period for online services to conform to the code.

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On June 24, 2020, the Washington State Attorney General (“Washington AG”) announced that it had settled an enforcement action against the owners of the “We Heart It” social media platform for alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and the Washington State Consumer Protection Act. Under the consent decree, the defendants must pay $100,000, with an additional $400,000 suspended contingent upon compliance with the consent decree.

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The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced its latest Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) settlement with California-based app developer HyperBeard and its individual principals. According to the FTC, since at least 2016, HyperBeard has offered a number of child-directed mobile apps, with names like BunnyBuns, KleptoCats and NomNoms that featured brightly colored, animated characters, such as cats, dogs, bunnies, chicks, monkeys and other cartoon characters, and that are described in child-friendly terms like “super cute” and “silly.” These apps are free to download and play, but they generate revenue through in-app advertising and purchases. The FTC alleges that the defendants were aware that children were using their apps, and that they promoted them to child audiences on a kids’ entertainment website, through children’s books and through the merchandizing of officially licensed plush stuffed animals and toys. Defendants allowed third-party ad networks to collect persistent identifiers from children in order to serve them with interest-based ads without parental notice or consent, in violation of COPPA.

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On May 19, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced that it reached an agreement with Swiss digital game developer Miniclip, S.A. (“Miniclip”) to settle allegations that Miniclip misled consumers about its membership in a COPPA safe harbor program.

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On May 4, 2020, Californians for Consumer Privacy (the group behind the ballot initiative that inspired the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (“CCPA”)) announced that it had collected over 900,000 signatures to qualify the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”) for the November 2020 ballot. The group announced that it was taking steps to submit the CPRA for inclusion on the November ballot in counties across California. The CPRA would amend the CCPA to create new and additional privacy rights and obligations in California, including the following:
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On April 9, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued guidance under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) for operators of educational technology (“EdTech”) used both in school settings and for virtual learning. The FTC’s guidance stresses that, while COPPA generally requires companies that collect personal information online from children under age 13 to provide notice of their data collection and use practices, and obtain verifiable parental consent, in the educational context and under certain conditions, schools can consent on behalf of parents to the collection of student personal information.
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On January 21, 2020, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published the final version of its Age Appropriate Design Code (“the code”), which sets out the standards that online services need to meet in order to protect children’s privacy. It applies to providers of information services likely to be accessed by children in the UK, including applications, programs, websites, social media platforms, messaging services, games, community environments and connected toys and devices, where these offerings involve the processing of personal data.

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On December 11, 2019, an updated version of India’s draft data privacy bill was introduced in the Indian Parliament (the “Draft Bill”) by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (“MeitY”). The Draft Bill updates a prior version submitted to MeitY in July 2018.

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On October 22, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission announced that, for the first time, it has brought a case against a developer of “Stalking” Apps. The agency alleges that Retina-X Studios, and its owner, James N. Johns, Jr., developed and marketed three apps that allowed purchasers to surreptitiously monitor the movements and online activities of users of devices on which the apps were installed without the knowledge or permission of the device’s user. The FTC also alleges that the app developer took steps to ensure that a device user would not be aware that the app had been installed, bypassing mobile device manufacturers’ security restrictions and leaving the device vulnerable to cybersecurity risks. The apps were marketed as tools for monitoring the behavior of employees and children. The FTC further alleges that the app developer issued policies that made inaccurate representations regarding the security of their online systems, which were recently found to have been hacked twice during earlier incidents.

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On October 1, 2019, China’s Provisions on Cyber Protection of Children’s Personal Information (“Provisions”) became effective. The Cyberspace Administration of China had released the Provisions on August 23, 2019, and they are the first rules focusing on the protection of children’s personal information in China.

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