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Was Charged With Illegally Collecting Children's Personal Information Online

By Published on .

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Ohio Art Company, maker of Etch-a-Sketch, has agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $35,000
An Etch-a-Sketch drawing unit.
to settle charges that it illegally collected personal information from children through its Web site.

The company was charged with violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by gathering information about children's birthday's without the consent of their parents.

The FTC announced the settlement on the second anniversary of the law's implementation. Also today, the FTC said it warned more than 50 marketers that their Web sites were in violation of the law and released the findings of a COPPA compliance survey.

COPPA requires marketers to get verifiable parental consent before collecting personal information from children under 13. It also bars Web sites from making a condition for children participating in an online activity that they give up more personal information than is needed participate.

Shoddy compliance
While the FTC said its survey showed that 90% of the 144 children's Web sites it checked had

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a privacy policy that said whether personal information was being collected, about half were collecting more information than necessary from children. The survey also found that about half the sites aren't telling parents they have the right to review information and to correct or delete information collected about their children.

The FTC said it has sent letters to more than 50 children's Web sites warning them to comply with the rule.

The FTC also said it was extending a key part of the legislation. When COPPA went into effect, the FTC had said it would look at the possibility of electronic means replacing printed notification if technology permitted. Today the FTC said the technology isn't available and that it is extending the current sliding scale for notifications until April 21, 2005.

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