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Effective December 31, 2012, articles are no longer being updated on this web site.
The site is now maintained as an historical archive, covering articles from the period 1999 to 2012.


FIRST AMERICAN ONLINE PRIVACY LAW TAKES EFFECT

Source: Reuters.com

Posted on April 24, 2000

      The U.S. government will start surfing the Web to enforce the first federal statute on online privacy - a new law that imposes thousands of dollars in fines on marketers who collect personal information from children under 13.

      The law, aimed at protecting the privacy of preteens online, requires Web sites to seek the permission of parents before collecting personal information from children under 13.

      Primarily targeting intrusive online marketers - who in the past have asked children for financial information about their parents - the law imposes fines of $11,000 per violation.

      "We'll be surfing Web sites to ensure that it is being enforced. We certainly intend to ensure that it is,'' said Lee Peeler, associate director for Advertising Practices at the Federal Trade Commission.

      While privacy groups welcome the law, which is the first of its kind in the United States, some children, no doubt, are furious.

      America Online has deleted the profiles, or online identities, of anyone who listed their age as under 13, according to spokesman Andrew Weinstein.

      Instead, AOL wants children under 13 to use profiles where they do not give their age and which are monitored under AOL's parental controls system. These profiles have restricted Internet access.

      And the head of San Francisco-based eCRUSH, a Web site that matches teens with mutual crushes, says she has received e-mail ''flames'' from under-13s when they found out she was closing their accounts.

      eCRUSH President Karen DeMars said the paperwork involved in getting parental signatures would have been too overwhelming, so the company decided to shut out under-13s. Privacy advocates are watching carefully to see how well the law works, saying the level of success will set the tone for their efforts to protect the online privacy rights of all Americans.

      "From tomorrow, Americans will be in the absurd situation of losing all privacy rights online when they turn 13,'' said Jason Catlett, founder of Junkbusters Corp., which is dedicated to combating intrusive online practices.




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