Society

McDonalds and Other Kids' Web Sites Accused of Violating Children's Privacy

| by Michael Allen

Several web sites, including McDonalds, are collecting information on kids, says a coalition of almost 20 children’s advocacy and public interest groups led by the Center for Digital Democracy.

The coalition plans to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that McDonald’s and four other companies are violating children’s privacy by asking kids to provide their friends' e-mail addresses, without parental consent.

The New York Times reports:

The law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, requires Web site operators to obtain verifiable consent from parents before collecting personal information about children under age 13.

Popular Video

A police officer saw a young black couple drive by and pulled them over. What he did next left them stunned:

Popular Video

A police officer saw a young black couple drive by and pulled them over. What he did next left them stunned:

But, in complaints to the F.T.C., the coalition says six popular Web sites aimed at children have violated that law by encouraging children who play brand-related games or engage in other activities to provide friends’ e-mail addresses — without seeking prior parental consent.

The sites cited by the advocacy groups include McDonald’s HappyMeal.com; Nick.com, the Nickelodeon site owned by Viacom; General Mills’ ReesesPuffs.com; SubwayKids.com; another General Mills site, TrixWorld.com; and Turner’s CartoonNetwork.com.

“It really shows that companies are doing an end run around a law put in place to protect children’s privacy,” said Laura Moy, a lawyer for the Center for Digital Democracy.