(This is a follow-up question from How to make sure my website complies with things like COPPA?)

Quoting FTC's COPPA FAQ:

  1. The Internet is a global medium. Do websites and online services developed and run abroad have to comply with the Rule?

Foreign-based websites and online services must comply with COPPA if they are directed to children in the United States, or if they knowingly collect personal information from children in the U.S. The law’s definition of “operator” includes foreign-based websites and online services that are involved in commerce in the United States or its territories. As a related matter, U.S.-based sites and services that collect information from foreign children also are subject to COPPA.

I am Brazilian and my website would be hosted in Brazil. I am not sure about the section "if they are directed to children in the United States" - if my website is not directed specifically to children in U.S. but directed to any children in the world, do I have to comply?

If yes, does this mean I have to comply with all similar laws that might exist anywhere in the world?

1 Answer 1


Yes, they are saying that COPPA applies to you if any of the children are in the US.


The term “operator”... means any person who operates a website located on the Internet... who collects or maintains personal information from or about the users of or visitors to such website... where such website or online service is operated for commercial purposes... involving commerce... among the several States or with 1 or more foreign nations....

Compliance with these sorts of things is interesting and when you ask if you have to comply with all similar laws I wonder who enforces the "have to." I can imagine, for example, if you are a franchisee and the franchisor has boilerplate language requiring you to comply with all local laws. Or in your case perhaps a software distributor has requirements. In those cases, sure, you need to comply with these types of laws in every country. But as for the US, what are they going to do to you?

EDIT to address comment: This is all just my opinion: there is no private right of action under COPPA so it is not an individual who would sue you but the state; a state's attorney. So you would have to get on their radar and they would need to decide to come after you. Then they have to find you, in Brazil, and file the lawsuit which they can do in their own jurisdiction. Then they have to serve you, in Brazil. You can go to the US and defend yourself or take the default judgment. If you lose you can see the penalties and the factors on that FAQ page. Best advice is to do your best and if threatened fix the holes. Oh yeah - some states have their own private right of action laws so you could be sued under a state law.

  • Thanks. I didn't get your last question though... It seems to be rhetorical, but I didn't get it. Are they going to do nothing, or they will hunt me down, or what? By the way, I should have written this in the question: "if yes, how can they enforce it? Why must I follow US if I am Brazilian? Does US rule over Brazil? (this is not supposed to be a rant, just the honest question)
    – Pedro A
    Aug 27, 2015 at 22:59
  • @Hamsteriffic I edited my answer
    – jqning
    Aug 29, 2015 at 2:01

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