Is IP Targeting COPPA Compliant?

Is IP Targeting COPPA Compliant?  I know it seems like an obvious question, but we recently were asked this question by a prospective university client.  Increasingly the El Toro IP targeting system is being used by colleges and universities to target prospective students for undergraduate and graduate admission, along with targeting alumni and sports boosters for donations.  On July 1, 2013, the FTC’s Child Online Privacy Protection Policy (COPPA) became law, changing forever how websites and applications utilized by users age 13 and under must operate.  The FTC is rigorously enforcing the act, which means that application developers and webmasters with users in the United States need to ensure they are in compliance.

Do you need to be COPPA compliant?  First, you need to determine if your application requires COPPA compliance.  Essentially, do you interact with web users who are 13 years old or younger?  Second, do you collect information from these users?  If your answer is yes to both questions then COPPA compliance is required for your application.  To get the full requirements for compliance, the FTC has developed a nice guide to assist you.  Compliance requires both changes in how you collect and use data as well as modifications to your privacy policy.  Back to the initial question, is IP targeted advertising COPPA compliant?  While COPPA restrictions can apply to behavioral targeting and retargeting both of which use cookies to target user behavior across a number of websites, it does not apply to El Toro’s IP targeting technology.  This is because our technology targets a household; it is not targeted at any individual based on their age.  Additionally our technology neither collects information on web users nor tracks them.

For advertisers who wish to target their message at children 13 years old and under, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit administers a self-regulatory-program for children's advertising which recommends best practices for online ad campaigns aimed at minors.  As discussed above, these types of campaigns are best suited for technologies other than IP targeting since our targeting is directed to a household, not an individual.