Kids Website Violated FTC Rules l UmeNow

Source: Bureau of Consumer Protection l Business Section

The following is an excerpt based on the article by Lesley Fair

November 9, 2011

According to a settlement with the FTC, the Skid-e-Kids website failed to meet critical compliance obligations under COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The FTC says the site collected personal information from about 5,600 kids without their parents’ consent.

Under COPPA and the FTC’s COPPA Rule, websites have to notify parents and get their permission before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13. The Rule also requires websites to write their privacy policy in clear and understandable language.

The site courted "tweenagers" and their parents by promoting itself as "the social networking alternative for kids ages 7 to 14" where "parents are in charge." The website promised to adhere to the United States Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, other applicable data privacy laws.

According to the lawsuit, parental notice wasn’t provided and consent wasn’t received. As a result, kids were able to create profiles, post personal information, upload pictures, and send messages to other users, resulting in the unauthorized collection of their names, birth dates, email addresses, and cities of residence. Thus, the FTC charged, the site violated COPPA and the deceptive claims in the privacy policy ran afoul of Section 5.

The order against Skid-e-Kids and the site operator bars future COPPA violations, requires them to tell the truth in the privacy policy, and calls for the destruction of all information collected from kids in violation of COPPA. In addition, if the operator of Skid-e-Kids runs a COPPA-covered site, he has to retain an online privacy professional to provide periodic assessments or join an FTC-approved safe harbor program. That provision applies for five years.
All but $1,000 or the $100,000 civil penalty will be waived if the operator complies with the settlement’s oversight requirements and supplies accurate financial information to the FTC.

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