On the Web, Children Face Intensive Tracking
Posted in: Child Protection&Online Safety at 18/09/2010 22:51
A Wall Street Journal investigation into online privacy has found that popular children's websites install more tracking technologies on personal computers than do the top websites aimed at adults.
The Journal examined 50 sites popular with U.S. teens and children to see what tracking tools they installed on a test computer. As a group, the sites placed 4,123 "cookies," "beacons" and other pieces of tracking technology. That is 30% more than were found in an analysis of the 50 most popular U.S. sites overall, which are generally aimed at adults.
How to Protect Your Child's Privacy Online
Websites popular among children and teens place more tracking technologies on users' computers than do the top websites aimed at adults, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found. But parents can take steps to limit their children's exposure.
Web-browsing activity is tracked by "cookies," "beacons" and "Flash cookies," small computer files or software programs installed on a computer when a user visits some Web pages. Some are useful. But others are used by companies to track users from site to site and build profiles of their online activities.
us: Understanding the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
For a decade, the federal government has regulated how websites collect and use personal information from children under 13.
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act generally prohibits website operators from knowingly collecting personally identifiable information from children under 13 without parental consent. It also requires site operators to collect only personal information that is "reasonably necessary" for an online activity. The law, which was enacted in 1998 and took effect in 2000, says personal information includes a full name, home or e-mail address, telephone number or Social Security number.
Snazzyspace.com: the Kids' Site With the Most Tracking Files
In the Wall Street Journal's survey of the tracking tools on sites frequented by kids and teens, one site stood out. Snazzyspace.com, which offers designs to jazz up pages on sites like MySpace and Twitter, placed 248 tracking tools on a test computer.
The total was 49 higher than the runner-up, music site playlist.com. Snazzyspace.com also was the top-ranked site in the Journal's "exposure index," which evaluated the privacy policies of companies placing tracking files to gauge the potential effect on users' privacy.