Disclaimer: Obviously, this blog does not provide legal advice. How do you know? This is free. Legal advice you have to pay for.
Finally, it’s just plain fair to your users. Remember, they’re the ones you’re trying to persuade. Ultimately, it’s their information and it shouldn’t seem like you’re sneaking it away from them. Let them make their own decisions. Respect your customers, and they will respect you.
Once you put that policy out there, you need to know what it says and ensure that it matches your actual practice. Don’t just copy and paste something you found on another site, since lazy drafting is not a defense.
Don’t Forget the Little Children
This is a particularly tricky area, since it’s not always easy to know when users are under 13, and COPPA compliance brings in a whole array of requirements. The important thing to remember is that you are responsible for third parties. This means that even if you do not collect any information from kids, if one of your third party plug-ins or apps does, then you must comply with COPPA (they need to as well). It also means that you are responsible for your affiliates, so make sure they understand COPPA and won’t violate it.
The general rule is to simply make clear what information you are collecting, and how it’s being used. Let them know if you’re selling it to third parties, or keeping it safe for them. Here are a few things to make sure you include:
- What information is being collected;
- What steps you are taking to make sure personal information (name, address, phone number, etc) is secure;
- Whether you will share the information with anyone outside your, whether you sell it or not;
- Let them know how they can opt out of communications, or modify/delete their information;
- Unless you prohibit kids from visiting your site, include COPPA information like how a parent can delete their kids’ info;
- Tell them how you will notify them when the policy changes (because you need to update your policy as you upgrade your business); and
- The effective date of the policy (when it begins).
Do It Already!