TrustArc Blog

New Research Reveals High Levels of Tracking on Children’s Websites, TRUSTe Enhances COPPA Solutions

June 19, 2014

Today, TRUSTe launched its latest consumer privacy research focused on tracking within top websites visited by children and expanded its COPPA compliance solutions to include website monitoring and a new verifiable parental consent (VPC) service from AssertID.

COPPA was originally enacted to help ensure basic privacy protections are in place by involving parents directly and “give them control over what information websites can collect from their kids.”  In 2013, The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was updated to now include tracking as part of the definition of Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

When your business is spread across various online channels, it is important to understand what tracking activity your customers are exposed to in order to build trust with and protect your customers.

The TRUSTe Website Monitoring Service was used in the TRUSTe Privacy Index: Kids Edition to scan 40 of the top websites visited by children as ranked by Alexa.com. Of these websites, 1,110 third party trackers were found actively collecting children’s information from 644 unique tracking organizations. On average, 24 third party trackers were found on pre-school websites, 25 on education sites, 29 on gaming sites and 34 on entertainment sites. The level of tracking varied significantly, ranging from less than 10 to over 180 tracking organizations on the 40 sites analyzed.

Based on this research, online companies need to continuously monitor data collection across all online properties, including mobile apps and websites. If properties target children under the age of 13, companies may need to consider COPPA compliance.

If a company does need to comply with COPPA, it may require the use of a VPC mechanism. Implementing COPPA historically has been challenging because it presented website operators with the need to obtain parental consent by using VPC.  However, operators lacked a real technology solution to allow for this consent to be gathered and used in an unobtrusive and economic way.  While the law and use of VPC was well-intended, it did not realistically do what it is supposed to do — protect kids.

TRUSTe is expanding its COPPA compliance solutions to include website monitoring and a new VPC service through a new partnership with AssertID. This solution helps both parents and website operators comply with COPPA and succeed in protecting kids’ privacy online.

In addition to certifying companies’ compliance with COPPA, the TRUSTe Data Privacy Platform provides website operators with complete visibility into the data collection and use of tracking technologies on their site through the Website Monitoring Service, along with controls to provide VPC through a new partnership with AssertID.

The TRUSTe Privacy Index: Kids Edition also reveals 87% of consumers with a child in the household avoid doing business with companies who they do not believe protect their privacy.  This shows that compliance is not the only reason companies need to be transparent about their data handling practices – consumers are making decisions that can affect their bottom lines if they do not feel the businesses can be trusted.

For more details on the study, download the research infographic here and to learn about how TRUSTe can help your company comply with COPPA, click here.