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For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:

David Paulson, 410-576-6357
dpaulson@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler Recognizes Changes to McDonald's Child-directed Website
Attorney General Raised Questions about Online Privacy Protections for Kids


Baltimore, MD ( Oct. 25, 2012) - In August, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler expressed concerns over the privacy protections afforded to child consumers of McDonald's game and social networking website known as happymeal.com. Similar concerns were also raised in August by consumer and privacy advocates who filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). McDonald's recently removed from its happymeal.com website the child-to-child "social networking" features that raised the greatest concerns for the protection of child privacy and safety.

"These changes eliminate several of the features that could put any child's privacy and welfare at risk," said Attorney General Gansler. "We applaud the advocacy groups who stepped forward and we share their desire to ensure privacy protections in today's digital age, especially for children."

In his role as President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), Attorney General Gansler has launched a nationwide initiative with other state Attorneys General to examine "Privacy in the Digital Age." Among the many issues this initiative will explore are the multiple privacy and safety risks faced by children and the unrestrained collection of consumer, web search and purchase information by Internet and Internet-based corporations without the expressed permission of the consumer and, in the case of children, their parents.

In his letter to McDonald's, Attorney General Gansler outlined his concerns with the corporation's website, which appeared to be collecting information about children through its child-directed website happymeal.com. Attorney General Gansler requested information from McDonald's about its data collection practices through HappyMeal.com in order to address whether the company was in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ("COPPA"). In particular, the Attorney General was concerned with the transmittal of photographs of children through the child-to-child feature on happymeal.com.

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ("COPPA") took effect in April, 2000. It addresses the online collection of personal information from children under the age of 13. It specifies what information a website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent and the responsibilities an operator must accept to protect children's privacy and safety online.

For more information about COPPA, visit:
http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus45-how-comply-childrens-online-privacy-protection-rule.


   

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