“The case started when an investigator noticed a payday loan ad on a website designed for children while browsing from a computer used in a payday loan investigation. The website’s advertiser apparently knew the user had visited payday loan websites before.
A 1998 federal law – Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act – prohibits unauthorized collection of children’s personal information on websites directed at users under 13.
The New York attorney general’s office discovered websites for Mattel’s Barbie, Hot Wheels and American Girl; Viacom’s Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon; JumpStart’s Neopets; and Hasbro’s My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop and Nerf had payday loan advertisements appearing on them.
“Operation Child Tracker,” a two-year, first-of-its-kind investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office, discovered that websites operated by these companies were home to tracking technology that illegally enabled third-party vendors, such as marketers and advertising companies, to track children’s online activity in violation of COPPA.
“Federal law demands that children are off-limits to the prying eyes of advertisers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Operation Child Tracker revealed that some of our nation’s biggest companies failed to protect kids’ privacy and shield them from illegal online tracking. My office remains committed to protecting children online and will continue our investigation to hold accountable those who violate the law by tracking children.”
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
In 1998, Congress enacted COPPA to protect the safety and privacy of young children online. COPPA prohibits operators of certain websites from collecting, using, or disclosing personal information (e.g., first and last name, e-mail address) of children under the age of 13 without first obtaining a parent’s consent. The operators of websites directed to children under the age of 13 (a “child-directed website”) and the operators of websites that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information from a child under the age of 13 (collectively, “covered operators”) are subject to COPPA.
Companies Agree To Pay Penalties Totaling $835,000, Adopt Comprehensive Reforms To Protect Children From Improper Tracking
According to The Los Angeles Times, “The case started when an investigator noticed a payday loan ad on a website designed for children while browsing from a computer used in a payday loan investigation. The website’s advertiser apparently knew the user had visited payday loan websites before.