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What Companies Must Do

U.S. companies who deal with children online are required by law to do the following:

  • Post their privacy policy— Web sites directed at kids or that know they plan to collect information from kids under 13 must post a notice of their information collection practices that includes

    Types of PII they collect from kids. For example, name, home address, e-mail address, or hobbies.

    How the site will use the information. For example, to market to the kid who supplied the information, to notify contest winners, or to make the information available through a kid's participation in a chat room.

    Whether PII is forwarded to advertisers or other third parties.

    A contact at the site.

  • Get parental permission— In many cases, a site must obtain permission from the parent(s) before collecting, using, or disclosing PII about a kid. Permission is not required when a site is collecting an e-mail address to

    • Respond to a one-time request from the kid.

    • Provide notice to the parent.

    • Ensure the safety of the kid or the site.

    • Send a newsletter or other information on a regular basis as long as the site notifies a parent and gives them a chance to say no to the arrangement.

      How the company gets parental permission is an interesting question. It depends on what they intend to do with the information.


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