Nobody likes to hear news like this, but it’s important to stay informed about the actions of various companies who could be trying to take advantage of younger audiences. Sadly, Viacom was recently among a group of media conglomerates who were found guilty of tracking the actions of young visitors on their website. This isn’t an uncommon practice, as a lot of websites like to keep track of what their visitors are doing. This information can help them to better cater their content to the right audience, but it can also be used to determine how they sell various products.
The United States prohibits websites that are aimed at children from collecting personal information about their younger users without permission from their parents. Chances are that Viacom simply has a few forms on their website that allow younger visitors to share information about themselves, and these forms do not require adult supervision or permission to complete. It’s probably not very likely that the company intentionally collected data about their younger users for nefarious purposes. Unfortunately, regardless of the intent, this type of data collection is against the law and Viacom is being penalized for their inaction on the matter.Some of the tracking technology used on Viacom’s websites has been aimed at properties such as Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s truly unfortunate to find out that Nickelodeon’s website does not meet the specifications required by US law for content aimed at children, but perhaps this will convince them to change their ways. Considering that Viacom is currently struggling in a lot of different areas, something tells me that the $500,000 fine they just received is not going to help matters very much.
If you’re a parent who is concerned for their child’s safety, make sure to check the websites they use in order to ensure that any data they request from your kids requires your permission. Sometimes this type of data collection is unintentionally missing a few required lines of text, so it’s not always a malicious act. It shouldn’t be too difficult to determine whether or not a website is intentionally trying to use your data inappropriately. That being said, it couldn’t hurt to learn more about the laws in your area in order to find out if the sites your children visit are breaking any rules.
Hasbro, Mattel and Jumpstar were among the other companies which were recently fined for similar data collection. If your child uses any websites that may be owned or operated by any of the following brands, make sure to keep an eye on the information that they could be sharing online. Hopefully these media conglomerates will learn their lesson and avoid further fines by fixing the issues that exist on their website in the near future.