Submission Number: 561789-00022
Received: 9/20/2012 1:09:16 PM
Commenter: Lynette Mattke
Organization: PicPocket Books
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: 16 CFR Part 312; Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule; Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; Project No. P104503
Attachments: No Attachments
My name is Lynette Mattke and I am a kid’s app developer making children’s books for mobile devices. Just a few years ago, I launched PicPocket Books as an innovative way for my children to get engaged in their schooling. I didn’t know anything about programming and building apps but had an idea and decided to put the time and money it to see where it could go. Just a few short years later, with 150 picture book Apps in the iTunes store, I’m now able to keep my company in the black, and it is satisfying that I have grown my business to the point that we even generate work for contractors and interns who help us with graphics, voice overs, sound engineering, marketing, and more.
PicPocket Books apps have the same pictures featured in printed books, allows children to listen to the story or have their parents read to them, turn the pages with the same motions of traditional books, and learn to read by following the highlighted text. Some of the books include Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm, Sleeping Beauty, Huggybird y la caja de los suenos, and Big Stuff: Monster Trucks.
I started PicPocket Books with an idea, figured out how much money it would take me to bring the idea to fruition, and ran with it. The app economy allows moms and dads to create a new business with little overhead – many times from the comfort of our own living room. As moms and dads, whose beta testers are most often our own kids, we think about kids' safety from the very beginning. I worked with a couple people to put together a platform that would help kids learn, talked to publishers about partnerships to bring books to that platform, and figured out how to comply with app store rules so I could get my apps in front of customers. However, if moms and dads like myself need to hire a lawyer to help us figure out how comply with federal regulations, I’m afraid many will think twice about starting a business.
There are many opportunities presented by the apps economy for small business owners, like myself. The ability to have a safe place to sell and market my apps is something that before may have, at one time, been cost prohibitive. I know it would have been difficult for me to sell a stand alone digital book to traditional big box retailers without a lot of connections and a lot of money. I’m concerned that if some of these platforms, if the proposed COPPA changes are accepted, have to assume some sort of legal liability for knowing that my early reader apps are directed at kids, they might not accept my apps at all. This would immediately put me out of business.
As a company, we’ve thought about including analytics in our apps but have not done so yet because of uncertainty with COPPA. I am happy to see that the FTC has included an internal operations exemption in the latest proposed rule. I hope this remains in the final version.
As a parent, I very much appreciate the goals of the FTC in enacting and updating COPPA. However, as a developer, I feel that improvements can be made that uphold the goals of COPPA while not stifling innovation or growth of the app industry. I hope my comments are useful in evaluating the proposed changes.