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Last update: September 2021

5 mins to read - 2021/09/07

Kids Privacy Certification Roundup: Are They Worthwhile for Your App?

Our kids are using devices more than ever. Practically everything they do for fun or school has a corresponding mobile app – whether it’s for education, instant messaging, gaming, music and video streaming, etc. And especially over the past year and a half of coronavirus lockdowns, with remote learning becoming a reality in most children’s lives, screen time is soaring. Ensuring that our kids’ data privacy is safe is of key importance. And one way you can build trust with your users and ensure that your app isn’t violating COPPA is to obtain a kids privacy certification.

But which one should you choose for your app? Here’s a quick roundup of the top kid safety seals on the market, and which one might work best for your mobile app.

Download OpenBack’s whitepaper outlining our unique approach to data privacy and regulation compliance:

TRUSTe kids privacy certification
Screenshot source: https://trustarc.com/truste-certifications/

Kids Privacy Certification Comparisons

TRUSTe

truste kids data privacy certification seal

TRUSTe is the subsidiary of the wider digital privacy solution TrustArc. TRUSTe offer more different seals depending on what level of privacy certification you’re looking for. There is a kids privacy certification, as well as a seal that ensures your app or website has done its due diligence to comply with HIPAA and California’s CCPA and Europe’s GDPR.

The certification process involves a TRUSTe team member guiding the app through the assessment process, providing a platform as well as template documents to build up the app’s own privacy program. Once they have revised their own framework and privacy policy so as to earn certification, TRUSTe authorizes the app to display the TRUSTe Verified Privacy seal, which links to a verification page. Apps also receive a Letter of Attestation, which they can share with business partners. Certification includes continuing monitoring and a third-party dispute resolution service which helps manage app customer inquiries. Should your app be audited in the future, they keep a searchable audit trail of documents for you. Apps also have access to the latest research in data privacy, including whitepapers and webinars.

PRIVO

privo kids data privacy coppa seal certification

Whereas TrustArc offers diverse data privacy certifications, the PRIVO platform focuses solely on protecting kids and families online. It has 3 different Safe Harbor certification seals, specializing in COPPA, GDPR-K, and students privvacy. But their entire focus is targeting children’s data privacy, and helping organizations comply with regulations in that sphere.

PRIVO are an FTC-approved Safe Harbor, and their COPPA Safe Harbor program involves an extensive audit of your app/product, its privacy policy, privacy notices, and terms of service, as well as agreements with 3rd parties regarding data collection. They provide you a detailed report on your roadmap, potential privacy risks, and how to mitigate those risks.

Your team then receive regular consultations with the PRIVO team until your defined product solution is acceptable to be awarded the COPPA Safe Harbor Certification. You then have the right to display that seal on your products, and you will be showcased on PRIVO’s Discovery Platform. The certification also includes continuing support in marketing and customer service, to help guide you in COPPA compliance long-term.

iKeepSafe

ikeepsafe coppa safe harbor certification

iKeepSafe is another FTC-approved Safe Harbor, as well as being Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) certified, California Student Privacy certified, and ATLIS certified. Companies that can prove compliance with the COPPA guidelines are allowed to display iKeepSafe’s COPPA Safe Harbor Certification seal on their website and products.

iKeepSafe’s certification process includes a detailed, two-tier assessment: manual and technical. The manual certification consists of the app going over documentation, template privacy policies, and sample contracts so the app can get its product up to standard. The technical assessment then involves proxy and web traffic analysis tools going over the product to ascertain which 3rd-parties are able to access user data. If there are any weaknesses or areas where there is risk of a privacy breach, iKeepSafe will work with you to bring your product within necessary compliance guidelines.

Once the app is awarded whichever compliance badge they’re working towards, iKeepSafe lists their profile on their website, and releases a press release announcing that the product is trustworthy within the parameters of the badge it earned. iKeepSafe also provides long-term support, in the form of consultations, a monthly email newsletter, as well as annual compliance training.

kidSAFE

kidsSAFE coppa certified

kidSAFE by Samet Privacy also has different tiers of certifications mobile apps can earn: Certified, COPPA Certified, and Listed. The basic “Certified” badge demonstrates that your app can follow general online safety rules for chat and messaging, has procedures for handling safety issues, parental controls for kids’ accounts, and age-appropriate content, advertising, and marketing.

The COPPA Certified badge goes one step farther, in that it states the app can prove it follows COPPA guidelines. That is, the app must have a procedure for obtaining parental consent if they are processing data of users younger than 13, and provide parents access to their kids’ personal data. It also must have a COPPA-compliant privacy policy. The product’s contining compliance with COPPA will then be overseen by the kidSAFE Seal Program. The kidSAFE COPPA Certified badge is an FTC-approved Safe Harbor.

The Listed seal is awarded to products that are specifically intended to be used by children, families, and/or schools. Once an app earns one of the above kidSAFE badges, it will be listed on their searchable Member List.

Should Your App Get a Kids Privacy Certification?

Kids data privacy badges or certification can be a way to build trust with your user base, by showing them your product is bonafide. If you can prove that you’ve put in the footwork and have been approved as trustworthy by a respected 3rd-party, this can be a good way to distinguish yourself above the competition. What’s more, all of the certifications listed above are evergreen – as long as you continue to educate yourself and update your product and privacy policy to stay in line with evolving regulations.

If you do intend to apply for one of the above certifications for your kid’s mobile app, using OpenBack to manage your push notifications is a simple and intuitive way to bring your data processing practices within COPPA or GDPR-K guidelines. OpenBack’s innovative hybrid platform uses mobile edge computing to leverage user data entirely on the device, without removing it to a cloud server for remote processing. Data stays on the device and remains the property of the app user, with no one else having access to it except the app backend.

To learn more about our platform and how it can help you become privacy regulation compliant by default, get in touch with one of our experts.

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