The developer advocate agrees with the strengthening of child protections online but finds the proposal lacks clarity and reduces legal certainty.
Washington D.C., July 30th, 2021 – The Developers Alliance has issued a statement in response to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduction yesterday of an updated version of “Protecting the Information of our Vulnerable Children and Youth Act” or the “Kids PRIVCY Act.” The Act seeks to strengthen the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The legislation touches upon many aspects of data privacy and protection with regard to children and teens.
Developers strongly support the strengthening of online child protection.
The developer community welcomes the opportunity to work with the FTC and parents on this issue.
Without bright-line rules, developers fear inadvertent liability even for good faith efforts at compliance.
Developers Alliance continually supports the need for a comprehensive data privacy bill, specifically one that protects at-risk classes such as children. Developers agree that children have the right to be protected from behavioral advertising. We have long stated that we believe contextual advertising is an acceptable way of allowing developers to monetize their products while still allowing for the end-user to have their privacy protected, thus we are in support of this initiative. While this bill intends to make great strides in accomplishing this goal, there are certain aspects that need to be addressed in order for the developer community to support the legislation moving forward.
Developers require a clear set of standards to follow for their apps to be effective and operate within the law. Various competing state and federal policies and standards for children’s data protection creates an ineffective web for developers to implement, thus driving up compliance costs and creating confusion. This issue becomes more pronounced when dealing with smaller developer-led companies that do not have the resources to stay up to date on evolving industry rules.
Developers find it important to note the differences between apps that kids may use versus apps designed for children. Apps designed for children should be COPPA compliant by design. There are certain apps however that may need to collect certain sensitive information to serve their purpose (ex: Ed Tech apps thus an outright ban on collection is not advisable. Developers believe the opt-in standard proposed is advisable given the need to balance children’s data privacy with the broad range of apps and services on the market. We agree that user-friendly privacy policies for the benefit of consumers should be industry-standard to ensure full transparency and promote confidence in apps.
We reject any prohibition on Safe Harbors. Developers benefit greatly from having Safe Harbor programs as they assist smaller companies in being COPPA compliant. Further, they provide necessary protections from FTC enforcement for developer run companies who are in good faith working to be compliant. To remove them would be backwards steps on a COPPA-compliant tech landscape.
Allowing parents to bring civil enforcement against apps discourages growth in the tech ecosystem and harms small businesses that already are struggling to come into compliance with FTC guidelines. We support ongoing efforts to educate parents on children’s data privacy so that they can make the right choice for their family based on clear, consistent, and transparent disclosure provided by the apps.
The following quotes can be attributed to the Developers Alliance:
“While we support reforms to COPPA and agree that children deserve more robust protection of their data in an increasingly digitized world, we find that being over-prescriptive in the implementation of data privacy for select groups makes compliance unrealistic for developers,” stated Sarah Richard, Policy Counsel & Head of US Policy. “Excessive regulations for developers can lead to a shortage of quality content or a variety of apps that are not compliant with COPPA. Rules should be designed to inform and incentivize parents to participate in their child’s data privacy protection, not penalize app developers. We welcome the opportunity to work with lawmakers and the FTC on COPPA reforms.”
About The Developers Alliance
The Developers Alliance is the world’s leading advocate for software developers and the companies invested in their success. Alliance members include industry leaders in consumer, enterprise, industrial, and emerging software development, and a global network of more than 70,000 developers.