Helpshift Protects Customers by Ensuring COPPA Compliance and so Should You

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YouTube is the world’s top streaming service with an estimated 1.3B user and 300M hours of video uploaded every minute. Last September, YouTube was fined $170 million dollars for violating COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act. The Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) regulation requires companies to give notice and obtain consent from parents before collecting data and personal information from children under 13 and also sets rules for how that data must be handled.

YouTube violated the regulation by collecting personal information—in the form of persistent identifiers that are used to track users across the Internet—from viewers of child-directed channels, without first notifying parents and obtaining their consent. Media and Content companies should be aware of COPPA regulations and ensure compliance. Those who run afoul of the FTC can face severe penalties and Brand risk. 

So far, there have been 30 FTC enforcement proceedings since the COPPA rule was issued in 2000, such as Musical.ly, a California based video app now known as TikTok, which was fined $5.7 million dollars for knowingly collecting data from potentially millions of users under the age of 13. 

Helpshift is a leading Digital Customer Service platform with over 450 global customers, including Microsoft, Supercell, Tencent and Xfinity Home. Many of our customers are concerned about compliance risk and our COPPA compliance features played a key part in their decision to implement Helpshift.

Our capabilities include: 

  • The ability to enable the Full Privacy flag, a tool that prevents registered underage users’ data from being collected. 
  • Developers can configure the enable Full Privacy flag at the SDK level. This disables user-initiated screenshots so users cannot send images without being requested by an Agent. It also prevents the collection of Mobile carrier name/code, country code, and custom meta-data that is labeled as “private-data.” 
  • The ability to use a contact portal other than the default to prevent the accidental storing of information about children that reach out for support.
  • The ability to provide a full set of FAQ’s so that underage users can get answers to questions without having to contact support, avoiding the need to collect their data in the first place.

Being at the forefront of an ever-changing customer service ecosystem is not just a positive business opportunity for us and our customers, but an opportunity to set the bar and be an example of what it looks like to succeed while respecting FTC COPPA regulations. Helpshift tools deliver enhanced customer experience, protect leading brands and children.

Large companies, especially when marketing to kids, are a prime target for enforcement. Lawsuits and sanctions about data privacy are typically initiated by these regulatory bodies because frankly, they have deep pockets. The Gaming and Social market is hard enough.  Successful businesses in this space have to navigate an environment of increasing regulations, like COPPA and GDPR, to avoid fines and bad press. That’s where Helpshift comes in. 

How businesses, large and small, choose to handle COPPA compliance reveals the direction as well as the leadership behind the product they are promoting. When a business sees that a vendor is willing to invest in compliance safeguards for their customers, it shows their dedication to protecting any partner the vendor works with. If you’re not interested in protecting the Brand, or fearful of the FTC….do it for the Children. Helpshift can help.

Published January 18, 2020
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