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CNN Today

Law Protecting Privacy of Minors in Cyberspace Takes Effect

Aired April 21, 2000 - 1:11 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A new federal law designed to protect children using the Internet takes effect today. Web sites will now be policed to make sure they don't violate the privacy of minors.

CNN's interactive correspondent Allison Tom joins us now with more on the new rules in cyberspace.

ALLISON TOM, CNN INTERACTIVE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, thanks Lou.

Today going into effect is a new law -- it's a federal law by the United States that says that any Web site that actually gears themselves or attracts kids under the age of 13 must now get their parents' consent in order to do any sort of interaction with these particular Web sites.

The first site that we're going to show you here is the Federal Trade Communications Web site. They have a "kidzprivacy" site up here now which will indicate all the specific details of the law. It'll also go into the specifics for parents, for Web site operators, as well as for children. Now

here. if we scroll down you can see all of the details. Essentially what it says is that each and every Web site, a commercial Web site, that now gears themselves to children under the age of 13, they must interact and they must specifically have a policy on their Web sites that indicate this policy or that this is a law.

Now here's an example that you see up on your screen as an example, clearly showing the policies that are now going to be appearing on these Web sites. This will change they way that kids and parents will interact with various sites that they are on. It will say again that you must have some sort of permission from your parents.

And, again, here is another inquiry form that is used from another Web site, just as an example, that shows you what types of questions or information that people might be asking you.

Again, you'll have to send in, parents that have kids under the age of 13, will have to send in any sort of written consent or an e- mail, or they can phone or fax any information that says that their child can provide the information to other Web sites. There's some of the information that might be involved: includes anything like their name, their e-mail address, their home address, anything to that degree.

The FTC also has some very good resources available on their site, indicating where people can find more information about this new policy. They can also find out other resources that might be helpful for protecting and filtering information out to children under the age of 13.

Last, but not least, there's a site here, still again, on the FTC's Web site that indicates very clearly and gives you details as to what all the terminology is in case anyone doesn't understand it.

Now, keep in mind, there are a few loopholes here. Everyone knows that this is not a perfect law. But what it does is that: if children are lying or they don't give the correct age and they say they are over the age of 13, that is one way they can get around this particular law; or if Web sites, for instance, just start taking the information and they no longer give or ask for children's information. Those are just some of the loopholes, but overall privacy advocates say this is one step in the right direction.

Back to you, Lou.

WATERS: All right, Allison Tom.

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