TRUSTe has settled allegations by the New York Attorney General that it did not adequately assess whether companies certified under its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Safe Harbor seal program allowed third party sites to track children. TRUSTe agreed to pay $100,000 and will be required to adopt new procedures to make its COPPA Safe Harbor certification review process more rigorous.
TRUSTe’s Children’s Privacy Program is an authorized safe harbor scheme that requires TRUSTe to carry out at least one yearly comprehensive evaluation of its customer’s websites to ensure they remain in compliance with COPPA. Under COPPA, companies are required to obtain parental consent before permitting any tracking of children under 13. While TRUSTe carried out electronic scans of seal program participants’ websites for third party tracking technology, the NYAG alleged that TRUSTe failed to perform similar searches of those companies’ child-directed webpages. The NYAG also alleged that TRUSTe failed to provide its customers with complete results of the investigations, including information on the tracking software they uncovered in their scans.
This settlement comes two years after TRUST found itself in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations that the privacy company neglected to re-certify more than 1,000 companies between 2006 and 2013 under the EU-US Safe Harbor program in place at the time.