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I hesitated to ask this question here, since i'm not sure there is a definitive answer (but there can be, maybe i missed it).

I'm implementing Google Play Services for a game on Android target at all audiances, including children under 13.

So, I was wondering, does the use of achievements comply with COPPA rules? On one hand the app is not using personal informations (only reporting progress of achievements, which can be score, or number of games... nothing personal), BUT on the other hand, the authentication itself to google play games seems to be personal information sent to the internet (the auth process itself). I'm already using admob with the tagForChildDirectedTreatment.

So i was wondering, if achievements (and maybe leaderboards) need specific steps to comply with COPPA, is there something like this tagForChildDirectedTreatment but for achievements, ... or do I have to show a panel to get parental authorization? Or maybe set the google play connection as optional, not default as written somehow here?

The reason why i'm so concerned by this is this little $16000 fine i read several times, in case you don't respect whatever has to be respected.

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You probably need to ask a lawyer to be sure; I am not a lawyer, so take what I say with a grain of salt. You can almost certainly find a lawyer to advise you on this matter for less than $16,000, so that seems like a good investment to me.

For reference, this is the COPPA law and these are the FTC's FAQs on compliance. This is the source of most of my conjecture, below, but you should read them both yourself.


First, Google Play's legal terms prevent users under 13 from using the service.

Age Restrictions. In order to use Google Play you must be 13 years of age or older.

So legally, no such user can be directly accessing your application anyway. However, you probably still want to protect yourself from a child who illegally or indirectly accesses your application. COPPA does not require you to investigate the age of users, and it does not require you to offer your services to users under 13, so you can, like Google Play, simply block them from participating via your own EULA. However COPPA does not permit you to block them if your game is targeted to that audience. Thus, you should avoid explicitly targeting that audience. It's probably the safest option, because you don't have "actual knowledge" that a user is under 13.

What constitutes "targeting" that audience (making your app "child-directed," see the FAQs) is fuzzy, so perhaps you can't (or just won't) explicitly exclude or block them. In that case, you need to be aware that even a unique identifier suitable for tracking achievements is considered "personal information."

(7) A persistent identifier that can be used to recognize a user over time and across different Web sites or online services. Such persistent identifier includes, but is not limited to, a customer number held in a cookie, an Internet Protocol (IP) address, a processor or device serial number, or unique device identifier;

Fortunately, you may be covered by the exception to requiring parental consent

(c) Exceptions to prior parental consent. Verifiable parental consent is required prior to any collection, use, or disclosure of personal information from a child except as set forth in this paragraph:

...

(7) Where an operator collects a persistent identifier and no other personal information and such identifier is used for the sole purpose of providing support for the internal operations of the Web site or online service. In such case, there also shall be no obligation to provide notice under §312.4;

So the tl;dr is:

  • don't put yourself in a scenario where you have actual knowledge that a user is under 13
  • if you just collect an identifier and only use it to drive your achievements, you're probably okay
  • ask a lawyer, because I'm just some guy on the internet who doesn't mind reading legal documents now and then and could be missing something very important
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The Google account already takes care of COPPA compliance. Google will refuse to make an account if you are honest and don't want to lie below 13 years old. Just open a private browser window and try to make a new Google account with a birthdate below 13: it will refuse.

So you don't have to worry about it.

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