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What Brands Need to Know About COPPA

Recently, COPPA has been a prominent topic among digital marketers and more specifically Youtubers. Even though COPPA is not a new regulation, it is garnering more attention as the FTC recently cracked down on large companies like TikTok and YouTube for their violations. Following the crackdown, these platforms have been forced into implementing regulations of their own to avoid catching heat from the FTC again. Brands need to be aware of the platform changes and their responsibilities moving forward. We have broken down the regulation below, although we recommend regrouping with your brand's lawyer for official compliance recommendations for your brand's specific action items. 

Let's start with a definition of COPPA. The FTC defines the 1998 regulation as the responsibility to "Obtain verifiable parental consent prior to any collection, use, and/or disclosure of personal information from children [under 13]."  Essentially, the regulation aims to put parents in control of what data is being collected about their children. Although the regulation has been in place since 1998, we will start to see these changes heavily enforced starting in Jan., 2020. 

One of the first platforms brands will need to address is YouTube, given the FTC's recent $170 Million lawsuit against YouTube. Starting this month, brands must disclose on YouTube whether their videos are intended for children under the age of 13. YouTube has introduced a new audience setting on YouTube studio where you can set your audience on a channel and/ or video level. Starting in 2020, YouTube will limit the amount of data collected for videos designated for kids. YouTube will be able to override creators' designation using AI if they deem it incorrect, creators will not be able to appeal these decisions. If a YouTube video is labeled “safe for kids” all data collection will be blocked as will commenting and end screen capabilities. The easiest way to bulk edit videos is to set targeting on a channel level. Even creators who don’t make content for kids should set their audience as “not made for kids” at the channel level. This will ensure YouTube's automated systems make the right decisions for your videos.

One resource for answering brand questions is YouTube's community support board. The forum goes Into family-friendly content and advises brands to follow these instructions for all ages content"

"If your content is for all audiences (aka "family-friendly") but does not target kids, it may be considered general audience and doesn't need to be marked as made for kids. For example, if your video targets adults (anyone over 13) and children incidentally enjoy it, it’s likely not made for kids." 

So what are the next steps to ensure your brand is compliant? First and foremost, regroup with your web and legal teams to determine changes in tracking you will need to implement. Additionally, if your brand has a Google rep, direct any specific platform questions to their teams. 

Additional Resources: 

FTC Official Page

FTC 6-Step Compliance Plan

YouTube Community Forum

Setting a YouTube Audience

Vanessa Kahn



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