Children security and Privacy on WEB

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May 18, 2014 by Ozgur Ozden

Before we start investigating these site, I would like to briefly mention about Children’s Online Privacy Protection (COPPA).

Children Security Policy (COPPA):

COPPA (The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)  is an act to protect the privacy of children under age 13 and regulate security and privacy rules for websites mainly focus on children. It was effective starting from 2000,  maintained and regulated by FTC (Federal Trade Commision)

If you are planning to open and run a website targeted to children under age 13, you need to comply by the rules of COPPA. Some of the points need attention are:

  • Website must have a clear privacy policy complies with the regulations of COPPA
  • Detailed information about the information collected and how it will be used and protected.
  • Direct notification and permission from the parents needed when information will be collected.
  • Written or approval from parents stating that their child can use the site.
  • Parents have rights to alter the information related to children or delete if they require.

 

Basically COPPA privacy act plays an important role for the protection of our children.

I have reviewed the following sites for marketing, advertising and agreement to COPPA.

PBS Kids – http://pbskids.org:

COPPA: Company has a clear policy specifically addressed to parents about how to collect information and how to use this information such as in communication, personalization, chat rooms. They do require parent permission before start collecting and storing information. Also stated on their privacy policy statement that parents have right to view this information, ask for changes and deletion if they require. They have clear policy about how to share information with third parties. NAme Coppa does not mention anywhere in the policy but it seems like they applied the general rules of coppa.

Advertising & Marketing: Website does not contain any Ad on the main page. They have facebook and twitter page as a part of social media marketing. They have a shopping site and they mainly advertise their own items on the site, no third party advertisement.
Webkinz – http://www.webkinz.com:

COPPA: They contain a detailed privacy policy on their site. They do not collect information under age 13. They clearly define important points with bulleted list. They obviously comply with the rules of Coppa and its name given as a reference. They have a paragraph advising parents how to monitor, supervise their child and its activity on the site. Policy also contains information about advertising activities on the site.

Advertising & Marketing: They have a page called “Ad Policy” about the advertisements placed on their site. They have clear rules about the ads on this page such as:

  • Advertisers must publish family friendly and suitable materials
  • All the ads must be approved by webkinz and they have right to cancel the ad at anytime.

They have two different sections clearly labeled as “AD” and when you click on this AD you have transferred to a third party website again related with this age group.

But on the other one i have seen some ADs not related with this age group such as, US POLO, İphone sale ad, Prom Dresses.

 

Poptronica – http://www.poptropica.com:

COPPA: is a website functioning under the roof of Pearson Education. They have a page designated for the parents only. They have a privacy policy updated regularly. Policy describes the following points: which information is collected (name, mail, address, age), how it is stored, how it is shared when necessary.

Privacy policy contains a large section devoted to children’s privacy. Here they clearşy state that privacy policy follows the COPPA act. They do not collect info for age under 13 without the parents approval, information collected from children under 13 is used only by Poptronica, children under 13 are not allowed to use chat rooms, email systems or bulletin boards without the parents written permission, they do not use links to other sites which are not suitable for children.

Advertising & Marketing: Privacy policy has a large section about advertisers and their function on their site. Mostly they contain links of their own instead of third party links and advertisements. They do not contain ads in the sub-pages as well. They use blogs as a part of social marketing.

 

Primary Games – http://www.primarygames.com:

I have deliberately chosen this site because it is mainly a gaming site with many advertisements and I would like to review a policy for a game site.

COPPA: They also comply with Coppa. Privacy page states that they have given an award TRUSTe’s Privacy and Children’s Seal. Site  notifies parents when information is needed, gives sufficient details about information collection and distribution and they do not share information with third parties without parents written approval. They do use clear gifs as described by Laudon & Traver (2013). They use Google Analytics and Quantcast to analyze the data that they have collected.

Advertising & Marketing: They use facebook, twitter, blogs, Google+, Youtube, pinterest, as a part of social marketing. They have a mobile version of the site available. Ads located at the top and the sides mainly related to children such as games, get help on your math homework, barbie toys.

They have list of third party advertisers on the site and Ad report link if the ad is not suitable. Ads were suitable for the targeted audiences.

 

Animal Jam – http://www.animaljam.com: is a website designed for kids by National Geographic.

COPPA: They do mention about Coppa and complies with its rules. They have a “Parent Dashboard” so parents can monitor the activity of their child and access the information provided. They also ask for parents mail address during the registration stage. They collect minimum amount of information regarding from the children under age 13. They moderate online chats running in their systems and do not reveal the real identity of the participants. Overall they do provide sufficient amount of information to its users.

Advertising & Marketing: Website does not contain any ads on the index page and in the sub-pages. All the content, games are prepared and developed by National Geographic team. They have a facebook, twitter and YouTube channel page but they are not exposed on the site.

 

For our website ePhone, we are planning to use facebook and twitter page as a part of our social media marketing strategy. Video review of the new models on YouTube will help decision-making process. At the start paid ads will help us to attract customers and this must be supported by mail advertisement. Some offline advertising methods like bulletin board ads, radio and newspaper ads can be considered at the last stage.

 

Word Count: 1105

New References: 5

 

References:

Laudon, K.C, Traver, G.C.,  (2013), E-Commerce 2013 Business.technology.society., New York, 9th edition, Pearson Education Limited


Pbs kids Website, (online), Available at: http://pbskids.org/privacy/ [accessed at: 28.3.2014]
Webkinz Website, (online), Available at: http://www.webkinz.com/us_en/privacy_policy.html [accessed at: 28.3.2014]
Poptronica Website, (online), Available at: http://fen.com/resources/privacy-policy-children.html [accessed at: 28.3.2014]
Primary Games Website, (online), Available at: http://www.primarygames.com/privacy.php [accessed at: 29.3.2014]
Animal Jam Website, (online), Available at: http://www.animaljam.com/privacy [accessed at: 30.3.2014]

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