Cartoon Doll Emporium Accused Of Violating Children's Privacy Rules

A Web site for tween girls operated by Cartoon Doll Emporium violated children's privacy rules by allowing ad networks and other third parties to track users, the Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Better Business Bureau said this week.

Cartoon Doll Emporium, a site for girls to play games, also ran afoul of privacy regulations by allowing children to disclose their full names to other users, the Children's Advertising Review Unit said.

Cartoon Doll Emporium responded to the Better Business Bureau's inquiries by making changes to its site. Among others, the company removed trackers that could be used to collect data about users across platforms, the Children's Advertising Review Unit reported.

The organization says the company's prior practices violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law that prohibits Web sites aimed at children under 13 from collecting kids' names, addresses or other personally identifiable information -- including data gleaned from tracking cookies or other unique identifiers -- without their parents' permission.

While the site took steps to obtain parental consent to collect data, those measures weren't sufficient, according to the Better Business Bureau's children's unit.

The site asked users to provide an age when they registered, and then sent emails to parents if users said they were under 13, but the parents weren't provided with a link to the privacy policy, the organization says. Also, users who initially said they were younger than 13 could thwart an age-gate by hitting their browser's back button and changing their birth date.

The Children's Advertising Review Unit found some other problems with the site as well, including that it displayed ad for “M” rated video games, including Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts. The self-regulatory standards call on companies to insure that only “age-appropriate” movies or games are advertised to children. Investigators report that the company promised that in the future, it will confirm that any ads placed by third parties are appropriate for children.

Cartoon Doll Emporium did not respond to Online Media Daily's request for comment.

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