Keeping Kids Safe Online Part 8

| October 13, 2010 | 0 Comments

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Protect Your Pre-Teen’s Privacy

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) helps you protect your children’s privacy by giving you specific rights. Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, COPPA requires websites to get parental consent before collecting or sharing information from children under 13. The law covers sites designed for kids under 13 and general audience sites that know certain users are under 13. COPPA protects information that websites collect upfront and information that your kids give out or post later.

COPPA also requires these sites to post a privacy policy in a spot that’s plain to see. The policy must provide details about what kind of information the site will collect and what it might do with the information — for example, if it plans to use the information to target advertising to your kids or to give the information to other companies. The policy also should state whether those other companies have agreed to keep the information safe and confidential.

What can you do?

Take advantage of your COPPA rights. Your child’s personal information is valuable, and you can do a lot to protect it:

Be picky with your permission.

Websites can request your consent in a number of ways, including by email and postal mail. Before you give consent, make sure you know what information the site wants to collect and what it plans to do with it. And consider how much consent you want to give — it’s not all or nothing. You might give the company permission to collect some personal information, for example, but not allow them to share that information with others.

Know your rights.

As the parent, you have a right to see any personal information a site has collected about your child. If you ask to see the information, website operators will need to make sure you really are the parent or they may choose to delete the information. You also have the right to retract your consent, and have any information collected about your child deleted.

Check out sites your kids visit.

If a site requires users to register, see what kind of information it asks for and determine your comfort level. You also can see whether the site appears to be following the most basic rules, like posting its privacy policy for parents clearly and conspicuously.

Review the privacy policy.

Just because a site has privacy policy doesn’t mean it keeps personal information private. The policy can help you figure out if you’re comfortable with what information the site collects and how it plans to use or share it. If the policy says there are no limits to what it collects or who gets to see it, there are no limits.

Ask questions.

If you have questions about a site’s practices or policies, ask. The privacy policy should include contact information for someone prepared to answer your questions.

Report any site that breaks the rules.

If you think a site has collected information from your kids or marketed to them in a way that violates the law, report it to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

View previous segment–Parental controls

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