Three web sites agreed to pay $100,000 in civil penalties to settle federal charges that they collected too many details about kids without their parents’ permission.
The penalties, announced April 19 against the operators of GirlsLife.com, BigMailbox.com, and InsideThe Web.com, were the first under the Children’s Internet Privacy Protection Act, a law designed to protect children under 13. April 21 was the law’s first anniversary.
Lee Peeler, the Federal Trade Commission’s associate director for advertising practices, said other investigations are ongoing.
The law applies to sites that collect information from kids under 13 who live in the United States. It calls for parental consent or notification, based on the types of data collected. Sites also must state what they do with the information.
Violators are subject to fines of up to $11,000 per violation.
Some sites have responded by dropping services or banning young kids from chat rooms and other interactive features where their personal information might be revealed.
In the case of GirlsLife.com, a companion to Girls’ Life magazine, federal officials said parent company Monarch Services asked for and posted full names and ages of children who submitted poetry, essays, or stories.
In addition, the FTC said, the site allowed kids to sign up for free eMail accounts through BigMailbox.com Inc. and participate in message boards at InsideTheWeb.com, run by LookSmart.
The FTC fined Monarch $30,000 and the other two $35,000 each.