Operator of Social Networking Website for Kids Settles FTC Charges Site Collected Kids’ Personal Information Without Parental Consent
According to the FTC, Skid-e-kids is a social networking site targeted at children ages 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 Skid-e-kids members.
In addition to barring future violations of COPPA and misrepresentations about the collection and use of children’s information, the settlement order also requires Godwin to destroy information he collected from children in violation of the Rule, and, for a period of time, link to online educational material and retain an online privacy professional or join a Commission-approved safe harbor program to oversee any COPPA-covered website he may run. Finally, the proposed order imposes a $100,000 civil penalty, all but $1,000 of which will be suspended if Godwin provided truthful information about his financial condition and complies with the order’s oversight provision.
The FTC has a new publication, Living Life Online, to help tweens and teens navigate the Net safely.
The Commission vote to authorize the staff to refer the complaint to the Department of Justice was 5-0. The vote to approve the proposed consent decree, was 4-1, with Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch dissenting. The DOJ filed the complaint and proposed consent decree on behalf of the Commission in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on November 8, 2011. The proposed consent decree is subject to court approval.
NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law. This consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Consent decrees have the force of law when signed by the District Court judge.
Related case materials: United States of America, Plaintiff, v. Jones O. Godwin, doing business as skidekids.com, Defendant (United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia) FTC File No. 1123033
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