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Kids under 13 can’t Yelp it

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If you have children under 13, do you know about COPPA — the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act? Websites and services covered by COPPA must get your consent before they collect personal information from your child, and they must honor your choices about how that information is used.

That’s why Yelp — the online review service — is getting less than five stars from the FTC. According to a recent FTC complaint, several thousand users who registered through Yelp’s mobile app provided a date of birth that showed they were under 13 years old. Yelp collected information from them anyway, including names, e-mail addresses and locations, as well as any content they posted on Yelp. 

As far as the FTC is concerned, that’s a no-no. The FTC complaint points out that Yelp’s website successfully screened users and prevented those who were under 13 from registering, but Yelp didn’t test its mobile apps adequately to ensure that they worked the same way. Yelp has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle these charges.

If you believe that a website or mobile app has collected information about your child without your consent, tell us about it at ftc.gov/complaint.

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Tagged with: COPPA, kids, parents, privacy