COPPA Turns One

Started by ske123, February 18, 2009, 11:23:06 PM

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On April 21, 2000, the United States enacted a law called COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act), to help protect children online. While this law primarily impacts sites that collect information about their readers, especially when their readers are under 13 years old, most sites should be aware of the law and other privacy tools in use on the Web.

Web Design Services that are directed towards children under 13 must: post their privacy policy, get parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information about a child, get new consent when the information collection practices change, allow parents to review the information collected about their child and allow parents to revoke their consent.

For example, the Web Design site is not specifically directed towards children under the age of 13, so technically, COPPA doesn't apply. But the children's channel on About does, and so there have been many changes to the About Kids channel. But even if your site doesn't have to comply with COPPA, it's a good idea to follow it. If you do, you'll improve consumer confidence in your site.

Basically, there are two ways of handling parental controls: review by an independent group of the Web site(s) in question, review by the Web developer herself of their own Web site and There are problems with each method.

The first method means that there needs to be a "governing body" that is trusted and respected by the consumers to find and block objectionable material. This can be questionable at times, especially if that body is using generic terms to block sites. For example, at one point NetNanny was blocking because it mentioned the word "couple" in reference to the President and First Lady. Other programs have blocked sites related to breast cancer because of the word "breast" in the title. The second method relies on honesty of the Web developers. Perhaps you can see where the problem with that might be. :) Also, many developers don't put up any type of rating system. I believe that IE handled this by not allowing access to any site without a rating (if parental controls were turned on). P3P and ICRA are just two different rating tools/codes that Web developers can use to rate their sites.

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