Is there a law concerning the collection and disclosure of personal information shared by my child online with commercial websites?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Many parents expressed similar concerns about keeping tabs on what information their young child was sharing with internet sites. Because of the 1998 enactment of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), web site operators must begin to obtain “verifiable parental consent” before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13 to third parties. This federal law applies to such data as full names, addresses, telephone numbers, or any other contact or identifying information. To inform parents of their information practices, website operators are required to provide notice about their policies on using such data. In fact, you should be notified by email by each company wanting to collect your child’s private data. According to the FTC’s regulations, parents may consent but may also restrict a website from disclosing the information to third parties, review the data a child has submitted, and forbid further collection or use of that data.

The FTC has launched a special Web page at to help children, parents, and site operators understand the provisions of COPPA and how the new law will affect them. Resources available on the Web site include guides for businesses and parents, and “safe surfing” tips for kids.

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