Does COPPA apply to your web site?

If you have interactive features such as e-mail, chat or contests on your

World Wide Web site, beware: Your site may fall under the Children's Online

Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), which went into effect last month.

Although it's geared toward kid-oriented Web sites, COPPA covers all

commercial Web sites and online services that knowingly collect information

from children under age 13. A general-audience Web site must meet COPPA

requirements if it asks for users' birth dates or ages and any of its users

are under 13.

The law also applies to sites that receive e-mail from users who identify

themselves as children and sites where children post their age in e-mail

messages, instant messages, bulletin boards or Web pages.

"There are a lot of general-audience Web sites that are not aware that

they fall under COPPA. They think this is just a kids' statute," says Nancy

Savitt, a partner with Aftab & Savitt, a New Jersey law firm that specializes

in COPPA compliance. "If they collect information that's age-related on

any forms or if they monitor message boards or chats and someone comes in

and says, "I'm 12,' they now have actual knowledge...and they have to comply

with COPP

Savitt says general-audience Web sites need to block children

under 13 from signing up for interactive features until parental consent

is received. Their banner advertisers can't collect personal information

from children who click through from their site. And they need to monitor

co-branded services such as online greeting cards that require personal

information.

COPPA applies to individually identifiable information about a child

that is collected online, such as full name, home address, e-mail address,

telephone number or any other information that would allow someone to identify

or contact the child. The law also applies to other types of information

collected through cookies or other tracking mechanisms when it is tied to

individually identifiable information.

— For more information about enterprise networking, go to www.nwfusion.com

Network World Fusion. Story copyright 2000 Network World Inc. All rights

reserved.

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