This morning, IPR filed two complaints with the FTC, on behalf of our client Center for Digital Democracy (press release, Washington Post article), alleging COPPA violations by two significant players in the children’s industry: Marvel and Disney, which operate the children’s website Marvelkids.com, and Sanrio, which markets the children’s mobile app Hello Kitty Carnival. The complaints come on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the passage of the revised Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA Rule). IPR students Yena Kwon and Richard Bahrenburg were largely responsible for conducting the research and drafting these complaints.
This case also raises serious questions about the effectiveness of industry self-regulation. As detailed in our request, Marvelkids.com violates the COPPA Rule in many respects, yet nonetheless displays the BBB CARU safe harbor seal, falsely indicating that it satisfies the COPPA Rule. Further, the site is not even in compliance with the industry guidelines that prohibit online behavioral advertising without first obtaining parental consent.
CDD urged the FTC to investigate and take enforcement action against Sanrio, Disney/Marvel, and the many third parties involved in the collection, use or disclosure of children’s information. The FTC should also investigate the BBB CARU safe harbor and the industry self-regulation regime in general.
UPDATE: CARU appears to have revoked Marvel’s certification in response to the complaints filed.