June 16, 2023

Ensuring Compliance in AI: A Lesson from Edmodo’s FTC Lawsuit


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently sued ed tech company, Edmodo, alleging that it violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA) and the FTC Act by collecting personal information from school children without their parents' consent. Not only did the company collect this data, but it also used it for advertising purposes, clearly contravening COPPA's guidelines​​.

Edmodo's platforms and related apps allowed teachers to create virtual classrooms, where they could host discussions, share materials, conduct quizzes, and communicate privately with students and parents. It was found that students, some as young as kindergarten age, had to provide personal information to register, and Edmodo collected additional personal data and device information without parental consent​​.

This case serves as a stark reminder of the essential role that compliance plays in the use of technology, especially when dealing with sensitive data such as children's personal information.

Edmodo attempted to shift its COPPA compliance responsibilities to teachers and schools, a move the FTC found unacceptable​​. “If you’ve been wondering who bears the bottom-line responsibility for complying with COPPA in the school setting, we’ll cut to the chase: It’s the ed tech company,” writer Leslie Fair states in an FTC blog.

In Edmodo's case, the proposed settlement includes a $6 million civil penalty, suspended due to the company's inability to pay, and an order to delete models or algorithms developed using information collected without proper authorization​​.

In light of these events, let's talk about Konfer, an AI tool that can help enterprises ensure compliance at all levels.

Konfer automates the mapping of all AI applications, models, data, and assets throughout your enterprise ecosystem. One of its key features is the Konfer Confidence Score, a real-time score that allows you to proactively assess all your AI applications, data, and models. With this tool, you can maintain compliance at the app, model, and data level, and stay compliant in an ever-changing regulatory landscape.

Konfer makes the complicated regulatory landscape easier to understand by creating controls from directives and laws, automatically figuring out which factors the controls belong to, and keeping them up to date with changes in the regulatory landscape.

In situations like Edmodo's, Konfer could serve as a valuable tool in ensuring compliance. The automation and real-time scoring could help identify potential data collection and usage violations, allowing companies to address them proactively. This ability to maintain compliance at every level is crucial in today's digital world, where data privacy is of paramount importance.

The FTC's action against Edmodo serves as a reminder that the legal responsibility for complying with COPPA, and indeed all data privacy regulations, ultimately falls on the technology operator​​.

As businesses accelerate their adoption of AI solutions across their entire ecosystem, implementing tools like Konfer can help businesses navigate the legal responsibility of complying with ever-changing regulations while maintaining user trust.

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