Parents, here is another reason to keep a close eye on what your children are doing on the Net.
Did you know that websites which allow children to register and create online profiles without your consent are violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and the FTC’s COPPA Rule (“the Rule”)? What these sites are doing is improperly collecting personal information from children (under the age of 13) without first obtaining verifiable parental consent.
The Federal Trade Commission is, however, taking action against these websites. On October 4, 2012, the FTC announced that Artist Arena LLC, an operator of fan websites for several popular recording artists, agreed to settle charges that it violated these acts. The settlement will impose a $1 million penalty on Artist Arena, bar future violations of the Rule and require deletion of the information collected in violation of the Rule.
In its complaint, the FTC alleged that Artist Arena’s activities violated the requirements of COPPA and the Rule and constituted deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. Specifically, the FTC maintained that Artist Arena operated recording artists’ websites where users, including children, could register for fan clubs, subscribe to online newsletters, create online profiles and interact with other users by sending and accepting friend requests and posting on members’ walls. The FTC claimed that Artist Arena knowingly registered children on these websites, and failed to provide direct notice to parents of its information practices and to obtain verifiable consent from parents prior to processing the children’s personal information.
The FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz stated that “[t]he FTC is in the process of updating the COPPA Rule to ensure that it continues to protect kids growing up in the digital age,” and seeks the public’s comments. But we can’t just rely on the FTC to watch over our children, parents and other guardians need to be vigilant in not only monitoring their Internet activity, but also educating them on potential dangers. You can also make sure vendors you use comply with the COPPA Rule. When we partner with our children in keeping them safe, they are more likely to do the right thing.
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours.
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