BBB Unit Alerts FTC of Alleged COPPA Violations

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The Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus Inc. said yesterday that it has referred two children's Web sites to the Federal Trade Commission involving alleged violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.


The Web sites are www.agirllikeu.com and www.lilromeo.com. Both attract an audience of children ages 9-12, according to the ad review unit.


COPPA, which took effect April 21, 2000, requires Web sites that collect information from children younger than 13 to obtain parental consent and to post extensive privacy policies.


The ad review unit claimed that agirllikeu.com lacked effective age screening mechanisms and that lilromeo.com lacked a comprehensive privacy policy and failed to obtain parental permission before collecting personally identifiable information from children under 13.


Agirllikeu.com targets age 9-12 and teen girls with message boards, e-commerce and contests while lilromeo.com is the Web site for 11-year-old rapper Lil Romeo.


The FTC does not comment on possible or current investigations.


The ad review unit also said yesterday that Pepsi-Cola Co. implemented an updated age screening process as required by COPPA on its Web site at www.pepsi.com. Pepsi also added complete contact information to its privacy policy, according to the unit. The changes were made after the unit evaluated Pepsi's Web site and COPPA violations were alleged.


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