Developers today will be increasingly aware of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was passed in 1998 to protect children under the age of 13 as they use the Internet.
COPPA was revised in 2012 to extend its privacy protections to mobile apps and games with specific relevance to online data collection and behavioral marketing.
Newly established company AgeCheq has announced a free multi-platform API for developers looking for a way to adhere to the U.S. government's COPPA regulations to avoid costly fines and other penalties.
AgeCheq also gives parents unparalleled visibility and control over the mobile apps and games their children use. The basic AgeCheq service is completely free for both app publishers and for parents.
AgeCheq's COPPA compliance ecosystem promises to offer programmers a "frictionless path" to make their apps and games COPPA compliant, at no cost.
"The process of validating a parent's ID, providing complete disclosures that parents can understand, and gaining parental approval for a child to play an app are completely new friction points for app and game publishers," said Roy Smith, founder and CEO of AgeCheq.
"Implemented poorly, these friction points could reduce game play and limit monetization, yet they are required elements for COPPA compliance. If each publisher were to create their own verification system, parents would quickly tire of validating their identity over and over. As we've seen already from some of the early attempts at compliance, the 'disclosures' offered by publishers vary widely from unintelligible to acceptable. The mobile app industry requires a single, simple-to-use system that manages COPPA compliance for both publishers and parents, and that is exactly what AgeCheq is."
A December 2012 FTC study on mobile apps for kids stated, "most apps fail to provide any information about the data collected through the app, let alone the type of data collected, the purpose of the collection, and who would obtain access to the data. The results (of the study) showed that many of the apps shared certain information — such as device ID, geolocation, or phone number — with third parties without disclosing that fact to parents.