I want to update you about recent developments in the app community. We have been relatively quiet at Moms With Apps in preparation for fundamental changes happening July 1st for children’s apps. In July, the updated version of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) will go into effect, meaning developers will need to obtain parental consent for any personal information collected through apps, including information channeled through 3rd party plug-ins.
The process of obtaining parental consent isn’t so easy (at the present time), given the fast pace of mobile. What this means is that many developers may need to comply with COPPA by simply removing dynamic communication functionalities and/or 3rd party services from their apps. In a highly generalized nutshell, the less integrated the app is with the Internet, the more COPPA-compliant the app is likely to be.
There has been lots of debate over the past year about whether these changes are good or bad for consumers and the industry. I have my own personal opinions on this, but my opinions don’t change the fact that the law exists and compliance is not an option. Both the FTC and the California Attorney General appear to be fully prepared to enforce the new laws.
My belief is that one of the biggest services Moms With Apps can provide for parents, and children, is to support a community of developers who understand these regulations, and who value how to make apps with privacy, trust and transparency in mind. The mom-and-pop developers I’ve worked with over the last three years understand how important it is to make technology work safely for families. They have the toolset to succeed in this increasingly regulated marketplace.
In partnership with the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), an industry association in Washington DC, we are creating a membership class specifically for kids’ app developers. Developers will have the option to join a new Moms With Apps program based on the principle of disclosing to parents how their apps work. This program is called “Know What’s Inside”. It is a call to action to tell consumers about the features inside their apps, and it is a reminder to parents to read the ingredients of an app before they download it.
If I am fortunate enough to have you visit momswithapps.com after July 1st, you will notice a new look. That look is intended to unite developers who will be in the marketplace for years to come. The home page of momswithapps.com will feel more like a website than a blog, but the blog will still be in place as a link from the main page.
Meanwhile, promotional programs that sprouted from within our community, like App Friday, are still going strong. Please continue to check Moms With Apps for news on all of these family-friendly resources.
Lorraine Akemann | Co-founder and Editor | Moms With Apps