Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed a civil complaint in federal court accusing Future Publishing’s GamesRadar website of failing to protect their users’ privacy and safety, as defined under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The 1998 act was created to prevent Web sites from unnecessarily collecting personal information from children under the age of thirteen. As well as GamesRadar, Abbott has also named non-game related website Cartoon Dolls in the civil complaint.
Abbott’s complaint is that both websites unlawfully collect names, ages and home addresses of children. He alleges that Cartoon Dolls in particular requests detailed information on height, weight, eye color and even whether the user “would like to meet someone older than myself”.
The complaint against GamesRadar appears to revolve around its hosting of content inappropriate to children, including a reference to mods which make games characters appear nude. Abbott also complains that the website features games specifically targeted at children, listing a number of prominent movie tie-ins from THQ/Disney.
Although no unusual personal data is collected by GamesRadar, Abbott alleges that the site purposefully attempts to avoid having to comply with COPPA and does not feature any screening process for those aged under thirteen. Further, legal documents
[warning: link is a .PDF file] allege a drop down menu used to select a user’s date of birth “encourages children under thirteen to lie about their age”.