Chris Olsen — CEO of the Media Trust, a digital security, trust, and safety platform — explains to Insider that even if COPPA is updated, the age limit hardly matters. What matters is profit-driven companies keeping the consumer’s best interests in mind, especially when it comes to children’s digital safety.
“Deciding what age it should be or who it applies to is dramatically less important than people understanding when they visit a platform what the platform is doing to them,” Olson said. “There’s a lot of pressure today to do better, and I think COPPA is one sliver,” Olson said.
Still, the onus will continue to fall squarely on parents to monitor their children’s digital safety.
Ubiquity of access to digital content is ageless. From online games to distract toddlers at a restaurant to remote learning, digital has permeated every aspect of children’s lives.
COPPA was originally designed to address tracking children’s online activity and the ability to target them with inappropriate (e.g., alcohol and adult) and misleading (e.g., rewards and ‘get now’) content on children-directed websites. It encompasses privacy and content: what can you know about children and what should you expose them to. As the environment has changed in the past few years, COPPA should be reviewed with an eye to safeguarding children from a larger set of harms associated with online use—ransomware, data theft, sensitive content, and misinformation.
Organizations that care about consumers are starting to adopt a comprehensive approach to digital security, trust and safety that permeates their organization, both off and online. In digital, this lens affects the online experience to safeguard children/users (and corporations) from:
- security issues: malware, ransomware and scams
- data privacy violations: phishing & targeting
- unwanted content: inappropriate images, sensitive content and misinformation
COPPA compliance requires AdTech platforms and media companies to protect their customers from harm when those customers engage them via digital assets (websites, Apps, ads, videos, etc). This can be a difficult task in digital where every user experience is different and constantly changing.