FTC Settles With Kids Social Net Over Privacy Issues

The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that it had settled with a kids-targeted online social network www.skidekids.com, which the agency had alleged collected personal info from kids without getting their parents' permission first.

That would be a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The FCT also charged that the site's operator made deceptive claims about the site's information-collection practices. The FTC described the site as a social network aimed at children 7-14 that allows them to "register, create and update profile information, create public posts, upload pictures and videos, and "friend" and send messages to other members."

The site's operator, identified as Jones O. Godwin, is required by the settlement to destroy any information he has already collected in violation of the rule and pay at least a $1,000 fine. The civil penalty is actuall $100,000 with all but $1,000 suspended so long as he complies with the settlement and provides truthful info about his financial condition.

The vote was 5-0 and still must be approved by a Georgia U.S. Disctrict Court.

Ed Markey (D-Mass.), author of the COPPA law, praised the settlement and put in a plug for his planned update of COPPA to better protect kids' online info in the digital age. "Earlier this year, I introduced the ‘Do Not Track Kids Act' with Congressman Joe Barton [R-Tx.] to bring COPPA up to date and add additional safeguards for teens," he said in a statement. "I look forward to working with my colleagues to move forward our bipartisan bill so that we can provide strong protections for children and teens in this new online environment."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.