Xanga Fined $1 Million For COPPA Violation

Posted on September 7, 2006

XangaNBC News reports that Xanga, a popular blogging and social networking service, was fined and will pay a $1 million fine from the FCT for violating COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. MSNBC says Xanga was fined for allowing 1.7 million accounts by children under age 13 without parental permission.
In its complaint, the FTC alleged that Xanga, a rival to the popular MySpace.com, allegedly permitted creation of 1.7 million accounts by users who submitted birthdays indicating they were under 13. Collecting personal information from anyone under 13 without parental consent is a violation of the children's protection act, or COPPA, which was passed by Congress in 1998.

According to the FTC, after signing up for the service, children often posted personal information on their blogs.

"Protecting kids' privacy online is a top priority for America's parents, and for the FTC," FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said in a statement. "COPPA requires all commercial Web sites, including operators of social networking sites like Xanga, to give parents notice and obtain their consent before collecting personal information from kids they know are under 13. A million-dollar penalty should make that obligation crystal clear."

Xanga CEO John Hiler released a statement about the FTC fine and complying with the FTC regulations.
"Xanga has long been committed to making its site safer for its members," it said. "When these issues came to our attention, we instituted a stronger, more comprehensive safety and compliance program."
Xanga does provide an online safety section for parents and teenagers which includes links to more resources like Onguard Online. Xanga also recently hired a chief safety officer. Xanga will submit to continued monitoring from the FTC to make sure there are no additional violations.

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