April 1, 2024

FTC rejects facial analysis technology for COPPA parental consent…for now

On March 29, 20224, the Federal Trade Commission published a letter denying without prejudice a request to approve the use of Privacy-Protective Facial Age Estimation (“PPFAE”) technology as a mechanism to satisfy the verifiable parental consent requirement of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, 16 C.F.R. §312.12(a), promulgated under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”).

The application – which was submitted to the FTC in June 2023 by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, SuperAwesome Ltd. and Yoti Ltd. – describes PPFAE as a tool that uses the geometry of a parent’s face to assess the parent’s status as an adult.  It argues that PPFAE satisfies the requirements of the COPPA Rule, namely, because it is reasonably calculated to ensure that the person providing consent is the child’s parent or guardian, and it protects children’s privacy while not presenting substantial risks to the parent’s privacy.

In declining the current application, the Commission took no position on the merits. Rather, it cited a forthcoming report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”), which the Commission anticipates will provide it with additional information to better understand age verification technologies.  The FTC also noted that it had received 254 comments to the original application, and that a new application following receipt of the NIST report would allow for both analysis of that report, and additional public comment.

Press release | Declination letter