Created to keep children safe online, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) went into effect in April 2000. Enforced by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, COPPA regulates the collection of information via the Internet from children under the age of 13. The Act delineates what a website operator must include in the site’s privacy policy and when and how the operator must seek verifiable consent from the child’s parent or guardian. COPPA also lists the obligations website operators have to protect the privacy and safety of any child using the site, as well as restrictions regarding marketing products and services to children.

"Keeping kids safe on the Internet is as important as ensuring their safety in schools, in homes, in cars…" Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., co-chairman of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, said at a Capitol Hill news conference on 19 December to announce "sweeping changes in regulations designed to protect a young generation with easy access to the Internet." According to a 20 December article in the Tech section of USA Today, "Government issues new online child privacy rules," the amended rules will go into effect in July 2013.

The revisions to COPPA now make it so the location data generated by mobile devices, as well as photos, videos and audio files containing a human image or voice, cannot be collected unless a parent first gives permission. Privacy advocates cheered the changes, which they believe are crucial in an era of cellphones, tablets, social networking services and online stores with apps marketed to kids. You can find more information in the FTC’s December, 2012 report, "Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade."

One of the best ways to make sure your kids are safe online when using mobile devices is to sign up for a free 2X MDM account. 2X MDM is an online service designed so you can manage, secure, monitor, find and track iPhones and Android smartphones and tablets from an easy to use online dashboard. One of its key features is app management – you can use the service to install or remove apps remotely, and if you identify an inappropriate app on your child’s device, you can block it. You can also find out exactly where your kids are via Google maps and, should one of them lose his or her phone, you can lock the phone or wipe it clean of data.

The revised version of COPPA will help keep your kids safe online. Resolve to do even more in 2013 to ensure their safety online and off with 2X MDM.

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