FTC Files Amicus Brief Clarifying Role of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act


The Federal Trade Commission filed an amicus brief in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that a federal district court ruling that the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) preempts state privacy laws regarding children between 13 and 18 years of age was not correct.

The case at hand involves a class action suit filed against Facebook, Inc. regarding its use of teenagers’ likenesses in “Sponsored Stories” posts. The district court, in approving a settlement of the class action suit, ruled that objections raised by some potential class members on points of California state law were not valid. The court ruled that COPPA’s provisions related to children under 13 preempted state laws regarding the privacy of children older than 13.

In its brief, the FTC argues that COPPA’s preemption provisions do not apply to state privacy protections for teenagers, who are not covered by COPPA. COPPA’s provisions apply to children under the age of 13. The FTC’s filing does not address the merits of the underlying class action suit nor the merits of the settlement.

The Commission vote approving the filing of the amicus brief in Batman v. Facebook (also known as Fraley v. Facebook) was 3-0-1, with Commissioner Ohlhausen abstaining  

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