children

Is McDonald's stalking children online?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: McDonalds, children, privacy violations

eTrust Pro Certified

Most Viewed Articles
Popular on Facebook
CDC issues flu vaccine apology: this year's vaccine doesn't work!
Tetanus vaccines found spiked with sterilization chemical to carry out race-based genocide against Africans
Biologist explains how marijuana causes tumor cells to commit suicide
Companies begin planting microchips under employees' skin
NJ cops bust teenagers shoveling snow without a permit
Russia throws down the gauntlet: energy supply to Europe cut off; petrodollar abandoned as currency war escalates
McDonald's in global profit free fall as people everywhere increasingly reject chemically-altered toxic fast food
Chemotherapy kills cancer patients faster than no treatment at all
U2's Bono partners with Monsanto to destroy African agriculture with GMOs
FDA targets Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps for sharing health benefits of coconut oil
Why flu shots are the greatest medical fraud in history
Flu vaccine kills 13 in Italy; death toll rises
600 strains of an aerosolized thought control vaccine already tested on humans; deployed via air, food and water
Italian court rules mercury and aluminum in vaccines cause autism: US media continues total blackout of medical truth
The 21 curious questions we're never allowed to ask about vaccines
Vicious attack on Dr. Oz actually waged by biotech mafia; plot to destroy Oz launched after episode on glyphosate toxicity went viral
CDC admits it has been lying all along about Ebola transmission; "indirect" spread now acknowledged
Orthorexia Nervosa - New mental disorder aimed at people who insist on eating a clean diet

Delicious
(NaturalNews) Some 20 children's advocacy, public interest and health groups have jointly filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission charging that some online marketing by McDonald's and four other popular companies targeting children violates a federal statute that protects their privacy.

The law is known as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), The New York Times reported, and it requires operators of websites to obtain verifiable consent from a child's parents before collecting their personal information if they are under the age of 13.

However, in complaints to the FTC, the 20-member coalition said six popular websites that target kids have violated the law "by encouraging children who play brand-related games or engage in other activities to provide friends' email addresses - without seeking prior parental consent," the paper said.

One of the companies; however, countered accusations by the coalition were a mis-characterization of its practices, noting that the law permits exceptions for one-time use of a friend's email address. It wasn't clear by press time if the companies had yet received the complaint.

Getting information about social networking sites for adults to email marketing messages to their friends is commonplace in the industry; it's a practice called "refer a friend" or "tell a friend."

Now, though, an increasing number of kid's sites are using the strategy by inviting children to make customized videos, for instance, which promote key products, and then sending them to their friends.

Cartoon Network, General Mills accused as well

Sites included in the complaint are McDonald's Happymeal.com; Viacom-owned Nickelodeon site Nick.com; ReesesPuffs.com, owned by cereal giant General Mills; SubwayKids.com, another General Mills-owned site called TrixWorld.com, and CartoonNetwork.com, owned by Turner.

"It really shows that companies are doing an end run around a law put in place to protect children's privacy," Laura Moy, a lawyer for the Center for Digital Democracy, a nonprofit group in Washington leading complaints, told the Times.

"Under the law, they can't just collect e-mail addresses from kids and send them marketing material directly. So they are embedding messages saying, 'Play this game and share it with your friends,' in order to target the friends," she added.

Additional members of the coalition include the Consumer Federation of America, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Public Citizen.

Separate reports said the coalition filed five separate complaints and was led by the Center for Digital Democracy.

Companies say 'we're taking it seriously'

"It is very troubling that major companies as McDonald's, General Mills and Nickelodeon are collecting email addresses from children so they can send unsolicited marketing messages to their friends," said Angela Campbell, the co-director of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown Law School, who serves as legal counsel to CDD and the other groups submitting the complaints. "These 'tell-a-friend' practices violate the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act because they are done without adequate notice to parents and without parental consent. The FTC should act promptly to stop this commercial exploitation of children."

In their letter to the FTC, the coalition asked the agency to look into additional marketing practices they said are also unfair or otherwise deceptive, including sites that use computer code to track the online activities of children or sites that ask them to upload their photos.

"This is the kind of thing you see from con artists, not the Fortune 500 elite," said Jeff Chester, the CDD's executive director, according to AdWeek.

Tom Forsythe, a spokesman for General Mills, told the Times in an email that his company was following approved practices, and that GM does not collect the original child's email address, adding the company only sends a single email to that child's friend.

James Anderson, a Turner spokesman, also responded to the Times via email, saying the Cartoon Network took compliance with COPPA seriously and would closely review any accusations. A Subway spokesman said essentially the same thing, the paper reported.

The FTC is currently working to update children's privacy rules to make sure they keep up with evolving technology.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com

http://www.qsrweb.com

http://www.adweek.com

Join over four million monthly readers. Your privacy is protected. Unsubscribe at any time.
comments powered by Disqus
Take Action: Support NaturalNews.com by linking back to this article from your website

Permalink to this article:

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):

Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use OK, cite NaturalNews.com with clickable link.

Follow Natural News on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest

Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

GET SHOW DETAILS
+ a FREE GIFT

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source: Alexa.com)

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.