The Children's Advertising Review Unit ("CARU") has recommended that the advertiser behind the popular "Gogo's Crazy Bones" collectable toys modify its website to better protect children's online privacy. The website Gogoscrazybones.com--which provides information and activities about the toys and allows children to keep track of their collections online--came to CARU's attention as part of its routine monitoring practices. CARU was alerted to the site through a television commercial.
According to the "Parents And Teachers" page of the Gogoscrazybones.com site itself, the site is a "fun place" for children aged 4-13 to "play games and learn in a safe online environment." Despite that claim, however, CARU found that the site: (1) improperly collected personally identifiable information (PII) from children, without first obtaining parental consent; and (2) linked to Twitter.com, a site that CARU had previously found was "inappropriate for children under 13" (see Case #4245, Twitter, Inc., Twitter.com, November 15, 2010). CARU found that these practices violated the CARU Guidelines for Online Privacy Protection and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ("COPPA") and related Rule implemented by the Federal Trade Commission. In particular, CARU found that the "Twitter website is not intended for use by children under 13 years of age and the Website does not age screen to determine the age of its visitors before allowing them to register and provide [PII]."
The advertiser agreed to accept CARU's decision in its entirety, and stated that it will only collect a parent's email address in the future. In addition, the Twitter link was removed from the site.
The case is Magic Box International, Gogoscrazybones.com, Case #5353 (July 13, 2011).