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Media Law Hotline Question of the Week
If it’s been a while since you last reviewed your policy, now is a particularly good time to do so. Recent changes to California's privacy laws (which affect all websites that collect information about California residents) and to the Children Online Privacy Protection Act require that you make specific changes to your policy. As you review its policy, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. California is Setting the Trend.
California may seem remote to New England newspapers, but the changes in California privacy law are significant for a couple of reasons. First, the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA, for short) applies to operators of websites and mobile apps that collect personal information about California residents, whether those operators are located within or outside of the state. A tourist from California, for example, is protected by California law if she accesses your website on her trip to New England. Second, California is ahead of the curve when it comes to privacy. The changes it has adopted are likely to surface in other states. The following are three significant changes in CalOPPA:
Collection of Personal Information by Third Parties. California also requires site operators to let users know whether third parties are allowed to collect personal information about visitors to the site. As with the Do Not Track requirement, this rule requires disclosure, but does not impose an obligation on websites to restrict third parties from collecting information.
2. Minors Get Even More Special Treatment.
When it comes to children, CalOPPA is just the beginning. The Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA, for short) has also seen some recent updates. COPPA governs websites that are directed to children under the age of 13. Even if you don’t intend to target that demographic, however, you must comply with COPPA if you know that your site (or one of your advertisers) is collecting personal information from children younger than 13. (Usually, the term “personal information” means biographical, financial, and location information. When it comes to children, however, it can also mean using a child’s IP address or mobile device ID over time to identify the child as a recurring visitor.) Noncompliance with COPPA can result in fines of up to $16,000.
The Media Law Hotline is a service offered free of charge to NENPA members in good standing, and is staffed by the media and intellectual property lawyers at the Boston law firm of Prince Lobel Tye LLP. You can reach the NENPA Hotline (operated by media lawyers at Prince Lobel Tye), at 1-888-428-7490 or by email at email@example.com.