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The Value Of Privacy 72

This FTC release details what can happen to web sites that collect infomation about underage users without parental consent. "The FTC charged Monarch Services, Inc. and Girls Life, Inc., operators of www.girlslife.com; Bigmailbox.com, Inc., and Nolan Quan, operators of www.bigmailbox.com; and Looksmart Ltd., operator of www.insidetheweb.com with illegally collecting personally identifying information from children under 13 years of age without parental consent, in violation of the COPPA Rule." For collecting things like name and age (and in the case of the BigMailbox.com, making the info available to a 3rd party), the three companies were fined a sum of 100,000 dollars. You might like to read more on COPPA as well, and then the Center for Media Education's report on COPPA. In related news, Spain imposed a fine on Microsoft for violating Spanish laws on data-transfer, for transfering employee information from servers in Spain to the U.S.
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The Value Of Privacy

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  • Why is slashdot falling for the old 'its for the children' line? Can't anyone see that punishing companies like this is an act of heavy handed government?

    The children are underage - they do not have much money. But marjeters have a legitimate interest in them - it has been shown that children under the age of ten make most major purchasing decisions in family homes. If you are selling a car, or a house, or a bedspread, or an Operating System, getting to the children is the thing to do.

    But why punish them for this? It is the fault of the parents for listening to their children. If parents had a more Victorian attitude to bringing up youngsters, these problems would not exist.

    I think that it is not the children that should be punished, but rather the parents.

    In a free market, information should not be a commodity. With this much I agree. Information should be free - by illegalising information, in this case information describing children, we are making it a more valuable commodity than ever.

    It is time to let the companies off the leash, and have parents be responsible, not children.

  • Hello Mr. troll,
    your ideal world is dream, a flight of imagination, and cannot be had. Privacy can. Not always, but often enough to be worth preserving.


  • Try a little experiment for me. Close your eyes and start humming a children's song. Let your mind wander a little. Now open your eyes. Congratulations. You have achieved privacy. Now reflect on how silly that experience was.

    The truth is, privacy is no better than a children's tune. It's a crutch that we resort to when we find ourselves unable to interact properly with our compatriots and social bedfellows. Why do we seek privacy? We don't know how to demand our priviledges according to intellectual arguments, so we fall back on the childish notion of "give me what I want because I asked for it so there!"

    In an ideal world, privacy would be unnecessary. Instead of focusing on how to achieve privacy, we should be focusing on implementing that ideal world. Privacy is a dream, a flight of imagination, an untethered ox whisping on the tendrils of aethereal currents. Woe be to the one who stands underhoof when the ox whisps overhead.
  • by Sanity ( 1431 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @02:09PM (#278434) Homepage Journal
    Advances in communication technology, just as it is making it more difficult to control copyrighted information, will also make privacy more and more difficult to enforce. Consider a world where there are cameras on every street (perhaps privately owned), which can track everything you do in public. This could be placed into a public database, or on to a system like Freenet [freenetproject.org].

    Of course it is not all bad, since these exact same tools could be used to monitor the monitors. The police may be able to use these tools to watch us, but we will also be able to use them to watch the police.

    Rather than wasting time trying to prevent application of this technology (which will ultimately be futile), we should be trying to ensure that everyone has access to it.


  • > As for the fine, 100 G, its alot, but probalby won't put them under,

    Pffffth!! 100G is pocket change for these guys. They probably already made ten times that amount selling the databases to the highest bidder.


  • > Some people don't care about this, and some do but we might all have to get used to it someday.

    Since when does the fact that "people don't care" mean that something is suddenly OK? I'm sure that there were a lot of people who didn't care about slavery, or the Holocaust, but that didn't mean that people of conscience couldn't rise up and do something about it. I admit that what we call "privacy" is a complex and sticky issue, with lots of people willing to give up some level of privacy in return for security or financial gain, but that doesn't mean we should simply throw up our hands in disgust and cave in...


  • Exactly how do you verify this on the 'net? Is it enough with a checkbox that says "Yes, mommy says it's OK"? What about "Please enter dads credit card # and expiry date"? Come on! I can debate the morality/legality of requesting this kind of information from kids, but parental consent? That's just ridiculous.

    It's like Soupy Sales [amiannoyingornot.com] who said, on TV, "Okay, kids, now go through your parent's dresser and send me all the little green pieces of paper you find"...


  • by jonbrewer ( 11894 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @02:49PM (#278438) Homepage
    You assume time is free.

    See how much extra time it takes at Radio Shack, for example, to purchase something without giving your name, address, and phone number. Even for a cash sale. Just last week I purchased a phone with cash. The clerks working the register couldn't make the sale without collecting information, so I had to improvise.

    How about the extra trouble it takes to alter consent forms, for example, at the hospital? It takes time to make sure the hospital doesn't let every insurance company, drug company, federal organization, or private citizen know that you're having a test.

    And a few nights ago when I used the pgp freespace wiper... five passes took 12+ uninterrupted hours.

    In my experience, privacy has been expensive.
  • OK, get this. I run windows on my little girl's computer (she's 4) and the nickjr.com website added a "radio" section. It requires the MS media player crap so I broke down and installed it.

    I'm used to getting a licensing agreement before installing software, but this time I got a "Privacy Agreement" which told me that they would watch everything played across the internet, and I think even on the local hard drive. I essentially had to consent first, then I was allowed to go back and (supposedly) turn it off.

    As far as I could tell there was no way for my little girl to listen to NickJr radio without me consenting to allow Microsoft (and whoever they want to sell the data to) to monitor exactly what she listens to and when.

    I'm sure Microsoft's point would be that they aren't forcing my little girl to listen to NickJr radio and that I have to make the choice. So I installed it and turned everything off. I guess if I ever get marketing directed at me for children's music I can sue Microsoft or something.

    Like that would do a damned bit of good at all.

  • It is time to let the companies off the leash, and have parents be responsible, not children.

    What's that? Parents be responsible for their children? Shocking!!

    That's exactly the problem, although you stated it somewhat incorrectly. People seem to want the GOVERNMENT to be responsible for raising their children, rather than they themselves be responsible.

    Cases in point: the CDA, the V-Chip, government mandating that all cigarette lighters be childproof, the list goes on and on. While I think it's a good idea for parents to create a safe environment for their children, it is the PARENTS' responsibility to do so, not the government's. You can't expect to raise your kids in a bubble. It's a tough world out there, and you will at some point have to teach your kids that and you will have to teach them how to survive in that tough world. Otherwise, they will not be able to cope.

  • In my opinion, these are the important words in AlphaOne's post:

    sell your information without your consent

    Read it again, and you will understand the issue.

    I have started calling the practice of selling personal information without consent data piracy or information piracy. Effectively, the companies are stealing your private information and making a profit from it.

    It's just like software piracy, except for one important difference. Software pirates are often individuals, and the victims are often large corporations. Data pirates are often corporations, and the victims are individuals. Only large corporations have the finances to lobby effectively for law changes. So it's no surprise that software piracy is illegal but data piracy is not.

    Corporations consider the sale of "address lists" to be an "accepted practice". Of course, software pirates would also call the piracy of software an "accepted practice". Having the criminals define what is acceptable behaviour is not very reliable.

    Let's not mince words here. The definition of "piracy" in the modern corporate world is usually taken to mean making a profit by selling something that doesn't belong to you. So isn't the sale of someone else's personal details without their knowledge or consent piracy in the strictest definition of the term?

    The biggest irony is that the MPAA and the RIAA are pirates because they sell their customer information.

  • Perhaps we need some better distinction between the boundaries of our personal space and other humans. Privacy is a rather broad term, perhaps we need to think about what the definition is. To take an example, consider a hypothetical 4 stage division

    - Personal (I) - inner beliefs, personality, DNA
    - Private (C) - habits, likes/dislikes,
    - Profile (B) - perferences, purchases
    - Public (P) - wider society, politics

    So far the eCommerce hype has been focusing on B2C and B2B. However, I suspect that what people are (rightly or wrongly) concerned about is the invasion of the I space and the contamination of the P space. Psychologists note that we we form the major precepts of our identy by late teens/early 20s. As kids, most of us have that isolated playhouse, the hidden cave, or that secret garden where we imagine the world as it could be. As adults, we are rightly concerned about overbearing laws and corruption of the politcal process. As consumers we have learned to negotiate or establish natural boundaries. we don't expect religious institutions to be flogging indulgances (B2I) for sale (cough*Scientology*cough) or desire friendships (I-I) to be colored by pecuniary factors (cough*Amway*cough). With IT we can try to codify some of the interactions (think information waveguides), for example motor vehicle registration where you have to accept responsibility for personal care of a dangerous ton of metal and explosions in a public space. But for someone to use that and influence/divine your B2C behaviour is what we object to. Similarly doctor-patient reationship (P2I) is not something most want to leak into the B-space.

    People forget that before our Western concept of civil laws (slowly replaced by commercial lures), we had social lores which were a tribe way of minimising social friction. The legal system is still a codification of social codes (along with economic incentives) which are proving to be increasingly imperfect as more splinter groups object to over-broad provisions. The concept of privacy which was evolved for P2I matters (freedom from trump charges corpus habeus?), torture, self-expression are not keeping up with technology as the I-C-B-P space fragments and wierd combinations undermine traditional assumptions. If you read Lessig books, you'd understand that the concept of privacy as interpreted by courts has morphed over the decades.

    In short, the world is becoming a little bit more complex so you're probably seeing new intermeiatories forming (data aggregators, accumulators, agents) forming between B2C plus others (e.g. grass-roots lobby groups (astroturf campaigns notwithstanding) are just I2P intermeiatories. Once we think about it, you can probably be more precise in what you can define as privacy.

  • I just finished reading "The Wizard of Oz" to my children, a superb book by the way, and all they talked about for weeks was getting the Oz action set, including the Emerald City playset, a full complement of Munchkins, Winkies, Flying Monkeys, posable Dorothy (silver shoes not included) with three sets of clothing, Cowardly Lion with the Kung Fu grip, Rock-em-sock-em Tin Woodman and Scarecrow with Real Action Straw (pins and needles sold separately.

    I'm just glad when we read the Hobbit they didn't want the Turbo Smaug with real flame. It was expensive enough buying the Laketown playset, and I waited in line for three hours for the last Bombur figure.

    All those old classics are chock full of subtle marketing.

  • Lighten up, dude. It's a story. Why does everything have to expose everyone to all that is bad in the world. What's so wrong about children being children? Do you think my three-year-old would enjoy the story if the Scarecrow suddenly took 17 slugs in a drive-by shooting? Why is that everyone at Slashdot (most of whom, not coincidently don't have children) think you can treat children like miniature adults. What's wrong with a little fantasy?

    Of course, I don't even know why I'm responding since you don't actually site any examples in your gratuitous assertion... that -1 score is there for a reason.

  • I missed your URL. My eyes automatically tuned it out as a .sig. Still I hardly consider anything Salon has to say as more than the ramblings of self-absorbed, twenty-something intellectual-wannabes. If children were intellectually and emotionally capable of understanding the complexities (and often horrors) of life, they wouldn't be children.

    I have also read Lewis and Tolkien to my children and they liked those, too, and while I recognize that their works are superior, I still think that Baum's books are worth reading, particularly to preschool-age kids. I read "The Hobbit" to my older kids when my three-year-old was a baby, I doubt, were I to read it now, she would have the patience or comprehension to sit through it. However, that's up to her. We also read plenty of shorter fare like Thomas the Tank Engine (the originals are also classics, IMO), and light stuff like Dr. Seuss and the Berenstain Bears. Given that my kids have over 100 books, I think there's room for "The Wizard of Oz" among them.


  • Interesting? Moderators this is a troll. Spell it with me T R O L L. You can tell because of this statement:
    If parents had a more Victorian attitude to bringing up youngsters, these problems would not exist.

    The Victorian attitude is one of fetishizing the child and putting them in cute little costumes. Not something to strive for.
  • > Maybe that "this service is unavailable to kids under 13" warning when the Windows ICQ client pops up aren't so stupid after all...

    It's certainly better spin / marketing than the truth - which is "We resell all our users' information, but under COPPA, the law would rake us over the coals for it if we didn't have this disclaimer. By continuing to use this service, you agree that you're over 13, and therefore, that we're legally entitled to resell the shit out of anything our spyware can find out about you."

  • by gotan ( 60103 )
    These few cases which made it to court are probably only the tip of an iceberg. And the result of what probably amounts to the data of some hundredthousand Individuals is a 100.000$ fine. Probably the collected data is used anyway, since noone can control how often it was copied. Considering, that probably only a few percent of those cases make it to court at all the data costs about 0.01-0.10$ 'legal fees' per individual.
    Well they can even make more money selling that information to spammers.
  • Unless my definition of privacy is distorted, in this ideal world, no information would be held in secret. Therefore any information that could be used to bring harm to you or someone you know physically, financially, or otherwise would be publicly available. That really doesn't sound ideal to me.
  • Why is Jesse Jackson signing his name as "Resident George Bush"?
  • by Vicegrip ( 82853 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @11:02PM (#278451) Journal
    When one side has the power to control your behavior under the threat of corporeal punishment, you may find having that camera in your hand a moot point after they take your film away. T

    here is no equality when the other side has a gun and the law on its side to use it. Privacy is your only protection against those who would seek to control everything you do.

    Your boss can control what you do at work, but has no business meddling in the affairs of your home. Why? Because it's you're privacy.

    Why people so complacently give up their rights because "there's nothing that can be done" totally escapes me.
  • to get music lessons over email or streaming media without having a parent involved.

    See http://onlineconservatory.com/young.html

    Guess it's back to joining a leather jacket wearing band making money on street in the corner where the local drug dealer is taking a coffee break.

    I love government waste, but when parents get involved it's a party!

    Now you might ask why would they not involve their parents?

    Did you involve your parents when you went to the mall to play arcade games? (no.)

    But in an environment (your home) where your kids are less likely to get mugged by a stranger (family violence doesn't count - no amount of legislation can prevent it but it can be countered) or kidnapped by a stranger they have to have parents involved?

  • Maybe it should have said: ...please try again after four years .
  • So I have the choice of some people watching everything I do, or Everyone watching everything I do. I'll take "somepeople", thank you.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\=\=\
  • > i also ussually put down my address as
    > 1600 Pennsylvania Ave Washington D.C.

    So you are the one I have seen hanging around my house.

    As the cross indexing of data bases gets better, they will be able to pick out your real address. With little bits of information combined together a person can fiugre out you are at a funeral and rob your house.

    With adults getting scammed, children are even easier. By limiting information given out and/or collected, this is a nice preventive measure. An adult with a child will let them talk to someone in a Mickey Mouse costume, but not let them walk off alone together.

    I doubt the fine even covers the cost of the investigation.

    - James - [IMAGE]
  • My father would always give the phone # & address of another rat shaft.
  • I don't know about you, but I find it kinda hard to trust any website named "Girls Life". What girl's life are they talking about? What are they doing with her? Are they going to cut her up for skin to make a girl costume? Maybe the CEO is a real life Buffalo Bill! Stop this company before it is too late!
  • Paying 100,000 dollars wasn't that big of a punishment for these companies.

    After all, say you go to a school yard, ask passing children about their personal lives, and then hand the information over to someone else.

    You think a fine is the worst you will get?

  • My friend was hauled into a leisure suit to get at a fondue party. As a small duck, he faced big duck bills.
  • that is pretty interesting...i didn't realize bigmailbox did that...I always thought it was a pretty neat service, to set up your own free webmail at your domain with bigmailbox...but I think i will postpone my use of bigmailbox until they change their rules...i don't like the idea of collecting info from kids...especially info that shows who these kids are. However, I wonder how many kids actually state that they are under thirteen and don't have their parents consent? I know when I was under thirteen...i would always check the box 16 or older or something that didn't signify my age...of course...i also ussually put down my address as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave Washington D.C. .....

  • by b0r1s ( 170449 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @02:10PM (#278461) Homepage
    but violating it is obviously expensive...

    Consider this:

    It takes no money to encrypt an email.

    It takes no money to use ssh/openssh.

    It takes no money to disable cookies.

    It takes no money NOT to buy something online.

    It takes no money NOT to fill in forms.

    Privacy is free... violating someone else's privacy is what gets expensive.

  • In an ideal world, privacy would be unnecessary.

    True. You're right. I agree with you.

    I would go even further, however.

    I mean every word of the following statement:

    In an ideal world, police would be unnecessary. And courts. And armies. We should focus on implementing that ideal world.

    I really do mean that. We should try to prevent the social conditions that encourage criminal behavior. We should do what we can to prevent large groups of people from systematically killing each other. Or even wanting to.

    Does this mean that I'd feel safe right now if all all law enforcement with any sort of jurisdiction over my home town were to just quit their jobs and leave? Does this mean that I'd feel even vaguely safe if I were in a country with some sort of useful resource (anything from land to wealth to money to strategic location. In other words, just about any country in the world.) and no military (not even that of an ally) to call upon?

    No it doesn't.

    This is not an ideal world. There are Bad People (and by extension Bad Governments and Bad Companies and Bad Religions and all other sorts of Bad Groups) out there that want to do things that may be good for them but bad for us. We need some sort of protection from them. Of course, police and armies can become the Bad Guys that we need protection from, sometimes. Still, having them is usually better than not having them.

    Just because something is not needed in an ideal world, just because we should be focusing on creating that ideal world, does not mean that it's not needed here and now.

  • Coca-cola vehemently denied that they were trying to target children in a plan to place large adversiements in the coke machines in elementary and secondary schools.

    Tobbaco company spokesman "Boy 1" (I dunno the names) from N'Sync denied that the tobbaco companies were "trying to target children", as he took a puff from his ciggarette.

    Fine, they were fined, but I don't think the government was hurt in this instance - the "consumer", and he/she should be

    As for the fine, 100 G, its alot, but probalby won't put them under, although you never know with some of these internet companies. If the govt is to enforce this,
    i.e. you fuck with us - go out of business, we take that new house you bought too. Though I don't feel that the govt is too interested in protecting privacy, if you get my drift.

    Also, don't forget that the little bastards often have the most purchasing power in the home ("I want frosted flakes!! not that stuff in a bag, I want tony . .. . ."

    I have a shotgun, a shovel and 30 acres behind the barn.

  • Dude, they are an internet company - their stock is probably down 98% from this time last year.
    Though 100 G should of have been a lot more. It's nice to see these fuckers bleed.

    I have a shotgun, a shovel and 30 acres behind the barn.

  • Rather than wasting time trying to prevent application of this technology (which will ultimately be futile), we should be trying to ensure that everyone has access to it.

    Eugene Zamiatin's We was the first of the dystopian novels, before 1984 and Brave New World, and depicted a world in which all the walls were made of glass so everyone could see everyone else and what they were doing ALL the time. Obviously it is more of an illustrative metaphor than any reality to be afraid of, but what you advocate not fighting against IS a reality to be afraid of, and would bring about the same effect. Think about it really, and then wonder wheather you'd rather be dead or alive in such a world.

  • It takes no money NOT to buy something online.
    Not quite there on this one. In many cases, buying online is cheaper than buying from a physical shop. So, effectively, it does cost money.
  • I am wondering when people are finally going to catch on to the practise of forcing your product on to people by forcing it at kids through TV and/or schools. In our house, the presence of children tangentially affects certain purchases, but widely we avoid a lot of it by not having TV and sticking to either educational materials, music, or -reading- to them.

    It's amazing how much more civilized and human my children became when we got rid of broddcast TV and cable. I recommend the practise to anyone, since there is virtually nothing on TV worth watching anyway.

    Don't miss TV. Nope Nope.

  • [...] with illegally collecting personally identifying information from children under 13 years of age without parental consent, in violation of the COPPA Rule.

    Exactly how do you verify this on the 'net? Is it enough with a checkbox that says "Yes, mommy says it's OK"? What about "Please enter dads credit card # and expiry date"? Come on! I can debate the morality/legality of requesting this kind of information from kids, but parental consent? That's just ridiculous.

  • Companies like Digicash (today eCash Technologies [ecash.net]) or Zeroknowledge [zeroknowledge.com] are having a hard time these days. eCash was shut down completely in Europe with the stop of the Deutsche Bank support (see here [deutsche-bank-24.de]), ZKS let go more than 25% of their employees a couple of weeks ago, not many people are using Hushmail's premium service, etc. etc. yada yada. Everybody wants privacy, nobody wants to pay. It costs money to run a mixing network, it costs money to issue and check coins instead of just doing a LUN check to see if you CreditCard# is valid. SET [setco.org] was also a failure in the US. 3D Secure (see here [visa.com]) is coming up, protecting only the merchant, not the sensitive information of consumers. Why? Nobody wants to pay.
  • Close, yes. IIRC Monarch Services was a parent company of Monarch Printing and Avalon Hill. As I understood the story, Monarch (which specialized in low-volume weird print jobs) was printing game boards for a struggling little game company. As the struggle was about to overwhelm them, Monarch bought them, Eric Dott reasoning that they could be made profitable (which I believe they were, for many years).

    Girl's Life was a later project, but I think the inspriration was in fact Boy's Life (probably minus the bad jokes page).

  • I completely agree with trying to protect children who don't know any better, but I'd really like to see this law apply to ALL information gathering, not just to children under 13.

    I think a company (or anyone, for that matter) absolutely should NOT be able to sell your information without your consent and that consent cannot be tied to a service.

    For instance, you get a phone line. Unless you specifically state that you will allow the phone company to sell your information to others, they are forbidden from doing so. In addition, they cannot make your acceptance of their selling your information a portion of their service agreement.

    THAT would be a useful law to me. Go fine flippin' Real $100,000 for sending me crap-mail about stuff I don't want.
  • Maybe that "this service is unavailable to kids under 13" warning when the Windows ICQ client pops up aren't so stupid after all...

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @02:07PM (#278473) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes the Links in the Chain suffer, to get to the end. A friend was hauled into a liability suit to get at a corporation. As a small fish, he faced big fish legal bills.


  • So...you wont mind if I just walk into your home at any time, go through your drawers, watch you have sex, etc.

    Privacy is necessary - psychologically. People seek out time for themselves if they do not have it. They seek privacy if it is not available to them on a normal basis. So do you. You NEED privacy every bit as much as you need socialization.

  • I'm not sure why a culture that puts up with MacDonald's merchandising partnerships and three (3) Pokemon movies considers it so heinous to collect personally identifiable information from adolescent web-surfers. Is this because they don't understand that by giving their name and address, they're going to be inundated with e- or snail-mail spam for My Little Pony and Barbie collections for the next 10 years?

    Don't misunderstand. I object to all of the aggressive marketing efforts that are targeted at kids. I don't think that it's right to flood them with this commercial crap, much of which has little immediate or staying value. I think it confuses them and contributes to an increase in our already excessively materialistic society. I'm also very firm on my personal privacy - I loathe junk mail and unsolicited phone marketing.
  • web is concerned. Just check out what any of them put on the porn site signup forms...

    Maybe there ought to be a law protecting web site owners from children.

  • Exactly... Read the book The Light of Other Days [amazon.com] by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter. It contains a terrific discussion of what would happen to society when everybody can see everything, past and present. I personally like the vision it presents... And I doubt I'm the only one.
  • Oh, I don't know. I'd buy it for a dollar.

  • I remember an article when Bill Gate's worth topped 100B and Microsoft was valued at over 500B. It said that Microsoft was now more valuable than Spain's domestic product. Of course, the recent stock slump probably put Spain back on top, but with things starting to turn the corner perhaps they are jealous?
  • You aren't, I read it recently and thought it was an excellent depiction.
  • by FastT ( 229526 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @03:11PM (#278481) Homepage Journal
    Which world you rather live in:
    1. A world in which goverment and corporations have all the cameras, and give privacy "guarantees" to the private citizens they monitor, or
    2. A world in which everyone has a camera, including private citizens, to watch anyone or anything they wish, at any time, including someone watching them.
    Of course, option (2) is the death of privacy as we know it, but option (1) is the death of privacy, period.

    The core problem with privacy protection as people conceive it today is that it has to grapple with a fundamental inequality between the observer and the observed. It tries to correct for this inequality by extracting flimsy promises to maintain equality, usually backed with only the carrot of being labeled Good, and the stick of being labeled Bad. The problem is that the ones with the information are inherently amoral; they have no sense of right and wrong.

    The primary thing that seems to have kept amoral entities from perform immoral acts in the past is that there has been at least some barrier, some extra work, involved in doing so. With ever accelerating technology, these barriers are now crumbling with exponential speed, making it easier and easier to not only intentionally, but unintentionally, perform immoral acts involving the breach of privacy. When it becomes as easy to correllate people with their detailed demographic information by doing a simple table join, what coropration or government will realistically be able to resist?

    Instead, why not base the idea of privacy protection on equality between parties, a fundamental check and balance system which is self-correcting? Sure, this may make you feel like you're living in the Big Brother house, except that now, you get to do the same to Big Brother. Why should we settle for any less?

  • Didn't Sun declare: privacy is dead? its nice to have little laws like COPRA, now extend them to us!
  • by amirboy2 ( 264999 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @02:25PM (#278483)
    My 9 year old brother was filling out a form for a membership at geocities the other day and he entered 9 for his age. When he hit submit, he got the following error:

    You are too young to fill out this form, please try again

  • Maybe instead of fighting for the removal of the COPPA as unconstitutional, people should be arguing that it's unconstitutional to apply some of it's protections to just children. In other words, turn a bad thing into a good thing, and let any site that collects personal information on anyone without consent, regardless of age, be fined.

    I dunno about you guys, but I'm tired of being discriminated against. Kids get everything, free meals, free toys, free shelter. Now they get free constitutional rights? I have to shell out thousands to my state Senator if I want a luxury like that. Enough is enough!
  • I've confused my COPPA (good thing) with my CIPA (bad thing), but you get the idea.
  • You aren't forced (unknowingly even) into that job, you profit from it, your rights (hopefully) aren't violated, and tomorrow there's a million different things that could happen to end your need for it.

    In the case of online profiling, websites use things like cookie files to profit from internet users who, assuming they even know about it, never gave their permission. You can stop it by disabling cookies, which will also keep you from visiting a large number of websites. And it won't get rid of the information gathered on you before they were disabled; for that, you'll have to find out which sites were using them to gather info; then you'll need to find out what that site's ad-server is. Sometimes you only need to notice the url in the bottom left when you hold the mouse pointer over an ad. Other times it'll only show an IP address [], leaving you to find out who it is. Sooner or later or by an act of god, you might find the adserver. At that point you can find out whether or not they give people the choice to opt-out of the theft of their persona information. If they don't give you a choice, you're done. If they do, you can take them up on the offer and trust that a company who's business is deception will keep their word and erase you from their database.

    So I don't really see a comparison.
  • Off the leash? When were they ever ON the leash? Americans have rights, including the right not to have their personal information stolen, and used for someone elses profit. The businesses mentioned here do that, and THOUSANDS of others not mentioned here do the same. Whether you think privacy is a dream, a preference, or a right, you should understand that no one here is a goddamned farm animal that exists only for the purpose of providing for a master. The only despicable thing about this story is that most people aren't young enough to be protected by the 4th amendment.

  • One would hope some of these laws could be a little less brutal for the companies. Don't get me wrong I'm all for privacy by all means [slashdot.org], however lawmakers also have to understand, there is no definite way to ensure that whomever is visiting a particular site is overage.

    Somehow I can see this falling into a deep damning fight between privacy groups like the ACLU, EPIC, etc., and companies who could be held liable without true reasons. Negligence? I think not, what are some of these companies going to do, create a webcam, fingerprint, biometric system to check ages?

    Lets get real about this, sure you could say, well they could use a credit card which would show they're over 13, but then a 13 year old can run into their parents belongings and enter a valid CC number. So where is the move to protect against those companies from being charged with crimes, from being victims themselves?

    Privacy Links [antioffline.com]
    • no one here is a goddamned farm animal that exists only for the purpose of providing for a master

    Snap out of it. I pay 35% tax, my employer pays about 2%. I work in a cubicle "farm" (my employer even calls it that), and am treated like a disposable commodity. Occasionally a new regime goes through an "empowerment is neat" phase, but it never lasts long enough to allow me to actually get any training or career development. However, if I work really, really, hard, I'll get a carrot. My owner, on the other hand, will get to buy Hawaii.

  • They (Radio Shack) really wouldn't let you buy it at all without giving them something? I've bought things there before with my boyfriend, and they gave us hassle but eventually caved in after a few minutes of arguing. I bought a phone cord from one a couple of months ago, and all I had to do was tell him no and he easily finished the sale without it. (Maybe he could tell I was going to be a pain and just didn't bother...) Although it is certainly irritating that they ask in the first place. Best Buy asks for your ZIP code, I'm pretty sure Circuit City asks for personal information too. (Is this an electronics store thing?) I worked at an Eckerd Drugs for awhile, and also Michael's Arts & Crafts, and they both tried the asking for ZIP codes bit. About one in every ten people will give you a hassle, in which case we'd just enter the ZIP code where the store was located. This skewed whatever information they were trying to collect, I'm sure...needless to say the policies didn't last very long. I questioned the usefulness of it to begin with.

    Odd that you had to make up info before they'd let you buy it. I'd say the salesmen are probably instructed to TELL you the computer won't complete the sale w/out filling it in, but in reality it's totally capable of completing it blank. Whenever a sales drone tells you something that sounds illogical like that, it's usually script. I've worked alot of retail jobs, and that's usually the case. Like when you ask if there are extra of something in the back, and someone says, "Sorry, everything we have is out on the shelves," what that really means is "Our stockroom is such a disorganized mess that we'd never find it in a million years if we DID have it, and I'm definately not going back there and digging around half an hour for you."

  • I work with a site CM Planners [cmplanners.com],, and we have done a few events for children recently. Since there is not yet a mechanism for authenticating users, be they children or parents, we have relied upon the teachers or sponsors of these children to register them for specific events, and also require a paper (snail mail) registration (authenticated by the parent or sponsor) to register children for events.


  • and the chiiiiilllldren. won't somebody please think of the chiiiillllldren?

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house"

  • ...with illegally collecting personally identifying information from children under 13 years of age without parental consent

    Does this mean I have to stop collecting information about the models on my website, www.preteenbuttcumsluts.com?


  • I never really understood that either, considering a credit card is not a valid form of legal identification. Just because someone has a credit card sure as hell doesn't mean they're an adult. Sure, they're probably over 13, but in the case of stupid porn sites that want you to enter a credit card as "age verification" it's worthless.
    In the old days of a BBS, you'd have to fax a copy of your ID proving you were over a certain age, or the sysop (hah, remember those?) would call back and want to speak to the parent in charge.
    Not a very foolproof system, but certainly better than "Check here if you're under 13"
  • Wait one second there! If we've been taught anything by history it's that when a large group of people with a common goal get organized, find good leadership, know how to get what they want, and can hold it together they can get the big boys to fold. This is truest when the proverbial "large male child" in question (see previous sentence) is a company or corporation. If a movement got together to protect privacy and boycotted corporations that were compromising privacy or voted for politicians that supported them, the assault on privacy would die faster than you can say, "Indrema." Nothing is certain but continual change. "Wir sind das Volk!" That isn't my sig, it's pertinent)
  • I agree, I'd like to see this, too. Boy, that would be great if the companies I do business with were not allowed to pass on my address, phone number, etc... Well, it was nice dreaming, wasn't it?
  • I have mixed feelings about this. Aside from the fact that it is next to impossible to verify the age of an online respondent, I do not like online sites trying to obtain my children's personal data.

    I've spoken with my kids, of course, about NOT giving out phone numbers, addresses, etc... I only let them use the web browser when I'm in the room with them. But one really can't stand over teenagers and preteens every minute they are online. It's not enjoyable for either party, and you have to be able to teach your kids proper behavior and let them practice a bit on their own at some point before they turn 18.

    But, I like seeing that someone is looking out for the kids. It is far more serious for a pre-teen to have someone get their real name, address, and so on, than it is for an adult. We try to train our children how to be safe and smart, but they aren't adults yet. And they aren't saavy.

    Then again, how does one inform parents and get their permission? It's true, some kids could just sign up for some free e-mail throw-away account, enter it as their parents address, and then respond to the emails sent there, as though they were the parent. When my children have gone to online sites, such as Disney, or Mamamedia (?), I have cringed when they asked for my email address. I didn't want to give out my email and be getting spam. If the kids want to give out their email, and deal with spam, fine. But I don't want it in my mailbox!

    In a perfect world, I'd like to see online companies held to such a restriction, that they can't collect or sell personal data on children. (Heck, I'd like to see that enforced for ALL Internet users, regardless of age, but for children especially.) But this isn't a perfect world. I don't see any easy solution.

    Parent vigilance is the only way to deal with this at this point.

  • by sllort ( 442574 )
    Spain imposed a fine on Microsoft for violating Spanish laws on data-transfer, for transfering employee information from servers in Spain to the U.S.

    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You stole my data. Prepare to die.
  • That's basically how it is today. Nobody has privacy anymore. Take this one lady (a good looking one) down in Chile (I believe that's the place they did this) she volunteered to live in a glass house in the downtown district of some major city where you can see her do everything from doing dishes to taking a piss. I mean talk about total invasion privacy. Now there's so called spyware (software that collects info about you and secretly sends it to the company whenever you log on to the net) like PKZIP, and RealDownload. Although they call it a marketing strategy in order to find out what it is you usually do on the net or what software you usually download or even buy. And don't think that they're going to stop cause there was a recent poll from www.techtv.com asking if the government has been keeping track of people on the net by sending cookies to you and YES was the popular answer. Some people don't care about this, and some do but we might all have to get used to it someday.
  • Really, it did. I'm sorry. Better luck next time.
  • We as a peoples must quickenly move to assessify the securification of our children lest they'd be systemendemically molestified by corporationative American.

    Yours truly
    Resident George Bush
  • Before I became a nerd, I used to play Avalon Hill war games. Monarch Services is formerly Monarch Avalon Inc (?) which was the parent of Monarch Printing and the now defunct Avalon Hill Game Company. Hasbro bought the rights to most (if not all) Avalon Hill games when it went under. You can
    find some AH games still sold at Multi-Man enterprises somewhere on the net.

    Just thought 10% would be interested.

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.