It’s been a tough year for consumers, with data breaches hitting some of the biggest names in tech and retail, and the fallout reaching far beyond. Companies large and small have taken a beating, and it’s opened eyes to the fact that sometimes privacy and safety need to come before shareholder value.
With the introduction of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in Canada this year, it’s time for food marketers to take stock of their digital strategies and consider how they can change to better protect minors’ personal information.
The main intent of COPPA is to protect children under the age of 13 from being targeted by online predators, content creators, and data brokers. It also requires that websites and online services that collect personal information from children provide effective measures to protect their privacy and safety.
What does this mean for food marketers?
Protecting Minors’ Personal Information
It’s a good idea to have a look at your website to see if you’re following the guidelines set out by COPPA. The easiest way to do this is to visit the site on a mobile phone and check out how easily you can navigate the site. Does it look modern and sleek, with bright colours that pop and text that’s easy to read?
If the answer is no, then you’re probably breaking the law. One thing to watch out for is collecting an email address or any form of contact information from a child under the age of 13. This is a common misconception among businesses that think they can get around the law by getting consent from a parent or guardian first.
It’s important to keep in mind that you never need to ask for permission to be in touch with a parent or guardian. The law provides that you must have the consent of both parents or guardians in order to collect any personal information from a child under the age of 13. The only time you need to get explicit permission is if you’re using cookies or other forms of automatic collecting technology. In these cases, you will need to get consent from the child first.
There are also mechanisms inside of your website that you can put in place to verify a user’s age. Looking at your site on a mobile phone and seeing how easy it is to navigate should give you enough confidence that you’re adhering to the spirit of COPPA and protecting the privacy of minors. If you’re not certain, then it’s a good idea to contact your local marketing agency or legal team for guidance. They can help you determine what measures are necessary to keep your site compliant with the law.
Reducing Opportunities for Online Predators
One of the more serious issues surrounding the collection of personal information is the risk of exposing children to online predators. One of the things that makes the internet such a dangerous place is that anonymity is often the key for people looking for attention or a possible relationship.
With the rise of the ‘Me Too’ movement, more and more people are coming forward with their experiences online. It’s opened a whole new can of worms, as people are no longer scared to speak out and be heard. This is scary for parents and kids alike.
It’s crucial to consider what can be done to reduce this vulnerability. One method is to ensure, as much as possible, that a child does not have access to a mobile phone. This might mean going the extra mile to ensure children do not have computer screens in their bedrooms. It also means removing any child-oriented devices such as tablets or games consoles from the house. The less technology that is accessible to the children, the less opportunity there is for them to be exposed to harmful content.
Measuring the Impact of COPPA
There’s no doubt that COPPA is a step in the right direction for protecting minors’ personal information, but this is certainly not the end of the story. It will take time to see how much this legislation will change the way we think about online privacy, especially when so much damage has already been done. It’s also important to keep in mind that the law applies only to companies that are based in Canada and have Canadian offices. This includes many of the world’s largest corporations, but also many smaller businesses that operate solely online.
One of the primary aims of the legislation is to raise awareness about online privacy, especially among children. It requires online services and websites to consider how they can protect the privacy of minors, and it also requires that children be given access to helpful resources in order to learn how to protect themselves online. This is certainly a step in the right direction, but it will take time to see if this legislation is enough.