An Atlanta based social network, Skid-e-Kids, has been slapped with a judgement by the Federal Trade Commission for voilating the rules of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
COPPA required companies to get a parents consent before collection information about children under the age of 13. Skid-e-Kids considered itself to be a “Facebook” for children ages seven to fourteen. It seemed like a great idea on the surface as that is the age group that seems to have the hardest time fitting into a popular trend of social networking. Skid-e-Kids would allow these kids to socalize as they would on Facebook or Twitter, but in a controlled enviornment where parents rule.
According to the New York Times, the FTC found that the social networking site violated COPPA by allowing children to register without requiring a parents email address, thus negating the requirement for parental consent before accepting a new registration. The websites operator, Jones O. Godwin, was also charged with misrepresenting the companies policies on privacy and information collection.
The ruling requires Skid-e-Kids to destroy the information collected while in violation of COPPA and provide information on their site to educational material about online privacy.
This is not the first that the FTC has been involved in collection practices by social networks reguarding children. Independent studies have shown that there are millions of children lie about their age in order to register to Facebook and that many do so with their parents help. In fact, some argue that age limitations on social networks and other sites are basically pointless, as many children simply lie to gain access to the site or the parents allow them to skip over the age restrictions for “educational” purposes.
The FTC would like parents and teens to understand the importance of obeying these agre restrictions to protect their children from data collection and have created a site called Living Life Online. It includes information about what the FTC is there to accomplish as well as covering topics like cyberbullying and even racking up excessive bills.