Government officials urge caution in marketing to kids

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During a White House Internet summit in Los Angeles, government officials urged marketers to be careful when marketing to kids. In a speech June 12, Federal Trade Commissioner Mozelle Thompson reiterated the findings of a report that found 89% of kids' sites collect information, but only 23% ask children to seek parental permission before they give information.

The FTC is recommending that sites that solicit information from children 12 and younger must first get parental approval, and must also get parental approval if they ask for information that would enable someone to contact a child off-line.

"In order for electronic commerce to grow and thrive,

people need to feel comfortable and safe with that environment," said Mr. Thompson. "This is an opportunity to set a baseline for appropriate behavior in soliciting children.".

Also at the conference, Larry Irving, assistant secretary for communications and information for the U.S. Department of Commerce, urged content developers to be careful about marketing to kids.

"We hope companies will be cognizant of kid's privacy, particularly when it comes to advertising," said Mr. Irving. "Corporations must be responsible in how they market to kids and collect information."

The Commerce Department is asking for comment on various aspects of Internet privacy and will hold a June 23-24 summit in Washington to explore issues surrounding electronic commerce privacy.

Copyright June 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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