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Tracking Children Online Intensifies

As a result of an ongoing investigation into online privacy, the Wall Street Journal has found evidence that the 50 top websites directed toward children placed 30% more tracking cookies on those sites than the 50 top websites directed toward adults. Google placed the most cookies of the companies investigated. Many of the other popular sites are small companies with widely varying privacy polices. Two sites directed toward teens have sold the information gathered about the users and at least one other site has ties to a pornography site. The dependence by these sites on advertising accounts for the significant amount of tracking technology used. Even though many of the sites claimed not to collect personally identifying information, at least one required an email address to register on the site. There are federal regulations requiring parental consent to collect personally identifying information from minors under the age of 13. The Federal Trade Commission is currently considering whether changes to the law should be made.

On the Web, Children Face Intensive Tracking, Steve Stecklow, wsj.com, September 17, 2010