For many e-mail and web marketers the youth market represents a major financial opportunity. Yet, the legal risks are high. The website “Xanga” was recently fined $1 Million for COPPA violations, for repeatedly allowing children under 13 to sign up for the service without getting their parent’s consent.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) is a United States federal law effective April 21, 2000, that applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction from children under 13 years of age.

It states that a website operator must include in a privacy policy that state how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children’s privacy and safety online including restrictions on the marketing to those under 13.

The act applies to websites and online services operated for commercial purposes that are either directed to children under age 13 or have actual knowledge that children under 13 are providing information online. For example:

What this means to the website owner is that you must beware of the underage visitor or registrant. The negative consequences are enormous.

For more information, consult your attorney.


John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

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