DOPPA Law Aims to Protect Online Privacy in Delaware

Delaware will become one of the first states in the U.S. to enforce strong online privacy policies through a new law called DOPPA, which takes effect on January 1, 2016.

DOPPA, which is short for the Delaware Online Privacy and Protection Act, has three main purposes:

  • Preventing marketing of specific types of online content to anyone under the age of eighteen.
  • Requiring websites and Internet apps to post a privacy policy that includes information about how they share users’ personal information and whether they honor “do not track” requests.
  • Barring e-book providers from sharing users’ personal information with third parties in most circumstances. Exceptions apply, notably ones that allow law enforcement and government authorities to obtain the information upon request.

The Delaware law is based on similar online privacy laws enacted recently in California. DOPPA makes Delaware the second U.S. state to take an explicit stance on users’ privacy on the Internet.

In some ways, DOPPA even goes beyond the policies pioneered in California. For example, certain of the Delaware law’s provisions apply to “users” of sites and apps, whereas those in California protect only “consumers.” That difference in language suggests that DOPPA could be applied more broadly than the California laws, since in many cases users of a website might not be considered consumers.

To be sure, DOPPA has its limits. Above all, it does little to protect government agencies from monitoring Internet users. It also includes no measures designed to prevent censorship or the deliberate blocking of Web content by governments or other authorities.

But DOPPA is better than nothing, which is what most U.S. states currently have when it comes to modern online privacy legislation.

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