The Federal Trade Commission has settled with children’s social networking site Skid-e-kids, which the agency said violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting personal information from children under age 13.

The site, which targeted ages 7 to 14 and promoted itself as “Facebook and Myspace for kids,” agreed to destroy the personal information of 5,600 children that the FTC said it had illegally collected without parental consent since October 2009.

The agency charged James O. Godwin, the operator of, with making deceptive claims based on the site’s privacy policy, which require that child users provide a parent’s valid e-mail address to register and first obtain permission for the child to participate. Not only did the site not collect parental e-mail addresses, children were also able to provide personal information like their date of birth, first and last name, and city during the registration process, all in violation of COPPA, according to the complaint.

Once registered, children could update their profiles with information, create public posts, become friends with other members, play games, watch movies and videos, and upload their own videos and photos.

Under the terms of the settlement, Godwin agreed to destroy the personal information already collected and is barred from future violations of COPPA as well as misrepresentations about the collection, use, and disclosure of children’s information.

In addition, Godwin must provide a link from the site to online educational materials and retain an online privacy professional or join an FTC-approved safe harbor program, as well as comply with reporting requirements for a period of five years.

The consent decree imposed a $100,000 civil penalty, all of which was suspended except for $1,000 if Godwin complies with the agreement.

To read the complaint in U.S. v. Godwin, click here.

To read the consent decree, click here.

Why it matters: The consent decree, executed not long after the agency issued its proposed updates to the COPPA Rule, demonstrates the FTC’s continued focus upon privacy issues and its enforcement of COPPA. Given the agency’s attention, companies should ensure that their sites are in compliance with COPPA.