Submission Number: 561789-00067
Received: 9/24/2012 4:06:34 PM
Commenter: Dan Russell-Pinson
Organization: Freecloud Design, Inc.
State: North Carolina
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 Dan Russell-Pinson and I’m the President of Freecloud Design, Inc. and the creator of several top 10 educational apps including Stack the States, Stack the Countries, Rocket Math, President vs.Aliens and Monster Physics. Like many educational app developers, I'm also a parent. I first started writing kid's apps because I wanted to make learning fun for kids.
I am concerned about the proposed changes to COPPA. The confusion it creates will drive developers and third parties away from the kid’s app industry. There are many great kid’s app developers currently making apps to help children learn using cutting edge technologies. As the majority of app developers are small companies, we need the rules to be simple and straightforward so that we can be sure to follow them while growing our businesses. However, the changes to COPPA are unclear and so broad that most developers will be unsure as to what is allowed and what is not. If they need to pay $10,000 to consult a lawyer, I doubt that many of them will get beyond concept stage of an app. Also, the third party service providers (platforms, analytics companies) are equally unsure as to how these new changes will affect them. This could lead them to stop their support of kid's apps all together. All of these outcomes would have a devastating effect on the kid’s app industry.
I am also concerned that the changes to COPPA now include screen names by themselves as personal information. However, if a user name is considered personal information, even without using names or address, it could eliminate my ability to use non-identifiable data to make apps better. Innovation is key to keeping my apps fresh and ensuring that children keep on learning. If COPPA begins to stifle that innovation, it may hurt children’s chances to learn rather than protecting them. It would be a shame that regulations aimed at protecting children end up killing the educational app industry.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to comment. I hope my insights as an app developer are helpful in moving forward in writing a final, clear and concise rule.