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Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Tuesday, July 25, 2000


20 web sites not in compliance with children's privacy protections

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced his office has identified 20 web sites which may be out of compliance with a new federal law, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Speaking before the Lieutenant Governor's Advisory Council on the Digital Economy, the Attorney General highlighted the new law and described other investigations and future enforcement actions regarding privacy rights of consumers.

"While law-abiding citizens and businesses use the Internet to surf, shop and make an honest living, there are characters whose unscrupulous activities are chipping away at the foundation of trust that has driven this new market to its current level of success. There are many different sides of the privacy debate, but certainly, we can all agree that we must protect the privacy rights of our children," said Attorney General Cornyn.

COPPA directs companies with web sites that cater to children under age 13 to post privacy policies that meet certain requirements. For example, these companies must get verifiable parental consent before they collect or use a child's personal information such as name, address, telephone number, social security number, email address and personally identifying information gathered via cookies.

Since COPPA went into effect, the Attorney General's office has reviewed more than 50 web sites and identified 20 sites which appear to be out of compliance with COPPA. The Attorney General's office has contacted those web site operators and told them that they may be in violation. They will be given compliance information, and the Attorney General's office will take action against those who fail or refuse to comply.

Attorney General Cornyn also described other actions his office has to protect the privacy rights of consumers. The Texas Attorney General's office was the first to file an objection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court against the proposed sale of consumers' information by a failed dot com, Toysmart.com. In bankruptcy proceedings, Toysmart.com proposed to sell their personal consumer information--a clear violation of their privacy policy in which they promised to never reveal consumers' confidential information to third parties.

The Attorney General also recently ordered Craftshop.com, another failed Internet company, not to violate the privacy rights of Texas consumers. These companies' privacy policies also promised consumers that their personal information such as names, addresses, phone and credit card numbers would not be disclosed to any third parties. However, they were also selling or considering selling their lists.

"I want these enforcement actions to make clear that a privacy policy is just as valid regardless of whether the company is in the black or in the red," said Cornyn. "By protecting consumers' privacy rights, we ensure their trust in online transactions and ensure a strong future for e-business."

Attorney General Cornyn also announced a proposal to meet with fellow Attorneys General this fall along with consumer and tech leaders to discuss a consumer bill of rights for the Internet.

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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050
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