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FTC: Amazon Toy Store Not Violating COPPA

The Federal Trade Commission rejected a claim made by privacy advocates that the “Toy Store” section of Amazon.com's Web site violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, denying it in a letter sent last week to the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

EPIC filed its complaint with the FTC in April 2003 along with other privacy watchdog and children's advocacy groups such as Commercial Alert, Consumer Action, Privacy Rights Now Coalition, The Center for Media Research, Consumer Federation of America, Junkbusters Corp., The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Privacyactivism.

The complaint alleges in part that, “Amazon is violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. Amazon is a major Internet retailer that directs portions of its web site towards children and, with actual knowledge of its actions, collects personal information from children.”

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 privacy policies.

In a Nov. 24 letter addressed to EPIC executive director Marc Rotenberg and signed by FTC associate director Mary K. Engle, the agency rejected the allegations.

The letter said in part, “After careful review of the relevant Web sites and other information, it appears to the Commission staff that the 'Toy Store' portion of the Amazon Web site is not directed to children and that Amazon is not collecting information from visitors with the actual knowledge that they are children under 13. Accordingly, the FTC staff has determined not to recommend that the Commission take formal action in response to your complaint.”

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