Kids' Privacy Online:
A Guide for Teachers & Website Operators
playing, shopping, studying or just surfing, today's kids are taking advantage
of all that the web has to offer. But when it comes to their personal
information, who's in charge? The Children's Online Privacy Protection
Act, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires commercial website
operators to get parental consent before collecting any personal information
from kids under 13. COPPA allows teachers to act on behalf of a parent
during school activities online, but does not require them to do so. That
is, the law does not require teachers to make decisions about the collection
of their students' personal information. Check to see whether your school
district has a policy about disclosing student information.
Here's a look at the basic provisions of
the law and what they mean for you and your students.
get a parent's consent.
In many cases, a site must obtain parental consent before collecting,
using or disclosing personal information about a child. Consent
is not required when a site is collecting an email address to:
- respond to a one-time request
from a child.
- provide notice to the parent.
- ensure the safety of the child
or the site.
- send a newsletter or other information
on a regular basis as long as the site notifies a parent and
gives them a chance to say no to the arrangement.
act in place of a parent in deciding whether to give consent.
Consent from a parent authorizes the website to collect personal
information from your student. Subject
to your school district's policies, you may
act on behalf of the parent in giving consent, but COPPA does
not require you to do so. If you or the parent do not
consent to the collection, use or disclosure of the student's
personal information, the student's participation in an online
activity may be limited to areas of the site where personal information
is not necessary.
You can give consent and still
say no to having your student's information passed along to
a third party.
A parent or teacher's consent isn't
necessary if the website is collecting a child's email address
simply to respond to a one-time request for information.
get new consent when information-collection practices change in
a "material" way.
Website operators need to notify parents and get consent again
if they plan to change the kinds of information they collect,
change how they use the information, or offer the information
to new and different third parties. For example, new consent would
be required if the website decides to:
- send information from children
to marketers of diet pills instead of only marketers of stuffed
animals, as covered in the original consent.
- give a child access to a chat
room if the original consent covered only sending a newsletter.
decide whether to approve information collection from students
based on new uses for the information.
Website operators will let you know about the need for new consent
by sending you a new notice and request. They will do this when
they are changing the terms-of-use of the information in a "material"
or significant way.
allow parents to review personal information collected from their
To do this, website operators must verify the identity of the
ask to see the information students have submitted.
The site will ask you to verify your identity to ensure that your
student's information isn't given out improperly.
allow parents to revoke their consent, and delete information
collected from their children at the parents' request.
Parents can revoke their consent and ask that information about
their child be deleted from the site's database. When a parent
revokes consent, the website must stop collecting, using or disclosing
information from that child. The site may end a child's participation
in an activity if the information it collected was necessary for
participation in the website's activity.
that you may revoke your consent at any time and have your student's
To stop a website from collecting additional information from
your student, you can revoke your consent. You also may ask a
site to delete any personal information it has already collected
from your student.
Many school districts are adopting Acceptable
Use Policies (AUPs) to educate parents and students about Internet use
and issues of online privacy and safety, and seek parental consent for
their children's use of the Internet. For example, an AUP may tell parents
about the privacy policies of online services with which a school has
contracts and students' use of non-contract websites. It may include cautions
against children disclosing personal information to websites - such as
their full name, home or email address, and telephone number. Or it may
tell parents that the school has established classroom email accounts
rather than individual accounts if email communication is necessary between
students and online services.
The bottom line for teachers: Look around.
Many websites do not require children to provide any personal information
to participate. Other sites limit their collection to personal information
that is necessary for the activity
To protect your privacy and help keep your
computers data safe you can use privacy protection software, security
software and monitoring software that is readily available online:
Privacy & Protection Software:
PC Delete - www.pcdelete.com
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