- - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Earlier this month two companies, Yelp Inc. and TinyCo Inc., agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they had gathered personal information from children under the age of 13 in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Now that our nation’s youth are back in school and likely online even more than they were during the summer months, it’s important that parents and guardians be aware of COPPA and similar measures so they know how best to safeguard their children.

It’s not only Hollywood starlets and employed adults with checking accounts who have their online privacy violated. Identity theft of people under 18 is becoming increasingly common as thieves turn to the spotless credit histories of the young.

Websites with large youth-user bases can offer parents and families such assurance with relative ease. First they will need to install a system that verifies the identity of the individual visiting the website so the individual’s age can be determined. Next they will need to verify that in the event the user is a minor, his or her legal guardian has given consent for their site to be visited. Those companies that agree to participate in such a program could be added to a database of kid-friendly sites, creating a safe space in which all involved can be sure users are interacting only with other verified users.

With a “Generation Y” that knows more about the Internet and technological gadgets than its parents do, it is imperative that there be safety measures in place to protect users and their families.

NEVILLE PATTINSON

Senior vice president, government affairs

Gemalto

Austin, Texas

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