This past week Zephyr Games participated in a Fly-In to DC with ACT and Moms/Dads with Apps. It was a wonderful experience and Kenneth Johnson, the owner and game designer here at Zephyr Games, was able to meet with a wide variety of staffers for members of the House and Senate, as well as Anna Davis from the FTC and the FTC’s team responsible for COPPA enforcement.
There are a lot of things to say, but first we’d like to thank Katie Parker and Val Delp from Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand’s office, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter from Senator Charles Schumer’s office, and Dana Miller from Representative Nita M. Lowey’s office for taking time out of their day on Tuesday to see us during what was an obviously VERY busy day with an immigration bill, IRS hearings, a defense appropriation bill and numerous other events winding their way through the house and senate. We’d also like to thank Anna Davis and the COPPA enforcement team headed by Kandi Parsons for taking the time out to see us.
Meeting with our representatives from the state of NY was a great experience, and we really felt that they understood our concerns regarding the upcoming due dates on COPPA compliance (coming up very soon on July 2nd!) and appreciated our efforts to go above and beyond on compliance with the creation of our new Parent Zone initiative. Something our fans will be hearing and seeing more of over the next month as we roll it out to our various products and the children’s development world at large.
In meeting the FTC we were also very happy to hear how supportive they were of our efforts, and we look forward to looping them in as we get closer to the official launch of the Parent Zone. It’s great to hear that you’re on the right track when you start down these larger efforts and our developers and designers on the effort to date (Developed by Interactive Monster’s Kevin Loughran and designed by Wesley Gunn Creative’s Wesley Gunn) truly appreciated it. We also got a sense from talking to the FTC COPPA team of the scope of the enforcement job that they are having to tackle, and with only a month left to go and the confusion out there in the children’s app world it is obvious to see how people are beginning to panic a bit and nerves are getting frayed at times. Our take away is that these are people who are serious about their job as consumer advocates and while they definitely work to enforce the law they are understanding of the burden that may be getting placed on independent and smaller developers.
We will be posting in the next day or so a blog post by Kenneth Johnson outlining some of his “to-do’s” or general things every game developer should know/do before the July 2nd date in order to get themselves in a good place for the rules and regulation update. It’s a very complicated new world and not everything is entirely figured out but it does seem currently that there are some basic steps each developer can take to drastically reduce their potential exposure with the new rules and we should all be making the best effort possible.
Here are some links to the offices of those who were kind enough to see us during this trip!
Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand’s Office
Senator Chuck Schumer’s Office
Representative Nita M. Lowey’s Office
Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen’s Office
FTC Division of Privacy and Identity Protection
And for another great writeup on their experience in DC by a developer that we visited DC with, check out the post on Dads With Apps by Scott Weiner, the President of Weiner Family Studios, and a founding member of Moms With Apps.