There May Be Less To The FTC’s Ed Tech Policy Statement Than Advertised (Free Version)

There May Be Less To The FTC’s Ed Tech Policy Statement Than Advertised (Free Version)
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The FTC’s splashy policy statement on “ed tech” is more modest than press coverage suggests.


The United States (U.S.) Federal Trade Commission issued a policy statement on how education technology providers need to comply the “Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act” (COPPA) when providing services or products that schools direct their students to use. The FTC touted the step as changing how the agency is policing this class of technology providers that have grown more prominent during the COVID pandemic when millions of students attended school online. However, a close reading of COPPA and its implementing regulations raises questions about the FTC’s claims and places the policy statement in a more modest context than the agency’s press releases might lead one to believe. Indeed, a Republican Commissioner claimed all the policy statement does is collect and summarize existing agency guidance on COPPA.


At its open meeting last week, the FTC unanimously adopted a policy statement on how it intends to enforce the COPPA statute and regulations in the context of education technology (ed tech.) Policy statements must be distinguished from regulation, with the latter having legal force and the former constituting an agency’s plans on how to use discretionary authority. Hence, the FTC put on notice the ed tech industry on how the agency will use its authority under COPPA and other statutes, namely the FTC Act. Moreover, a policy statement does not signify that enforcement action is imminent.

And, here are developments and articles from last month. Being subscribed would mean getting these in a more timely fashion.

Other Developments

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi “agreed to launch the EU-India Trade and Technology Council at their meeting in New Delhi on Monday…[a]strategic coordination mechanism will allow both partners to tackle challenges at the nexus of trade, trusted technology and security, and thus deepen cooperation in these fields between the EU and India” per their joint press release.

United States (U.S.) Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo met with European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis “to discuss U.S.-EU cooperation on imposing costs on Russia in response to its unlawful invasion of Ukraine…[and] also discussed progress made within the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council’s (TTC) working groups ahead of the TTC Ministerial in France on May 15-16.”

The United States (U.S.) Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) information security and “identified weaknesses in all nine of the domain areas and two of the eight Congressional Letter areas that need to be strengthened to ensure that FBI’s information systems and data are adequately protected.” The OIG made “47 recommendations for improving FBI’s information security program.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission “has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Uber B.V. (Uber), which has admitted it engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations in the Uber ridesharing app.”

The European Commission issued an updated question and answer fact sheet on the Digital Markets Act.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada “published an updated guidance for federal institutions on disclosures of personal information” per its press statement.

United States (U.S.) Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan named two senior agency leaders: General Counsel Anisha Dasgupta and Office of Policy Planning Director Elizabeth Wilkins.

As part of its Digital Platform Services Inquiry, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will close its inquiry on Small business dealings with digital platforms on 29 April 2022.

The United States (U.S.) Federal Trade Commission published a blog posting titled “What the pandemic has taught businesses about the collection of health information” with advice on how firms should handle health information,” which constitutes the agency latest thinking on what firms should do with this class of information in light of last year’s a Policy Statement about the Health Breach Notification Rule that “clarify[ied] that the Rule applies to makers of health apps, connected devices, and similar products.”

The United States (U.S.) Department of Defense (DOD) named Dr. Craig Martell as Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer (CDAO) and in this role “will serve as the department’s senior official responsible for accelerating the adoption of data, analytics, digital solutions, and AI functions to generate decision advantage from the boardroom to the battlefield” as explained in this memorandum.

Tweet of the Day

Further Reading

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Tech Giants Duped Into Giving Up Data Used to Sexually Extort Minors” By William Turton — Bloomberg

Facebook Doesn’t Know What It Does With Your Data, Or Where It Goes” By Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai — Vice

Regulators are unlikely to block Musk’s purchase of Twitter, former officials say.” By David McCabe — New York Times

Tesla’s value dropped Tuesday by more than double the cost of Twitter” By Faiz Siddiqui — Washington Post

Inside Worldcoin’s Globe-Spanning, Eyeball-Scanning, Free Crypto Giveaway” By Richard Nieva and Aman Sethi — BuzzFeed News

For Russian tech firms, Putin’s crackdown ended their global ambitions” By Joseph Menn — Washington Post

Ukraine war: How Russia replaces Ukrainian media with its own” By Maria Korenyuk and Jack Goodman — BBC

WeChat wants people to use its video platform. So they did, for digital protests.” By Zeyi Yang — MIT Technology Review

Trump says he won’t rejoin Twitter. Some advisers don’t believe him.” By Drew Harwell, Josh Dawsey and Craig Timberg — Washington Post

NGA Will Take Over Pentagon’s Flagship AI Program” By Patrick Tucker — Nextgov

FBI Director Christopher Wray on foreign cyberattacks, domestic terrorism and attacks on law enforcement” By Scott Pelley — 60 Minutes

Ukraine war: False TikTok videos draw millions of views” By Shayan Sardarizadeh — BBC

Twitter lags behind its rivals. Here’s why Elon Musk bought it anyway.” By Naomi Nix and Chris Alcantara — Washington Post