Popular children’s websites tracked their activities
Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro among companies cited in federal investigation
Companies that operate popular websites for kids, such as nickjr.com and barbie .com, agreed to a $835,000 settlement after an investigation found the sites were enabled with tracking technology.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office reached settlements with Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro and JumpStart Games after an investigation into the companies found violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
The investigation, called “Operation Child Tracker,” found that websites operated by the companies enabled third-party vendors, such as marketing and advertising companies, to track children’s online activity — which violated federal law.
The companies run websites associated with Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon, owned by Viacom, as well as popular brands owned by Mattel and Hasbro — such as Barbie, Hot Wheels and American Girl.
“Federal law demands that children are off-limits to the prying eyes of advertisers,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
The agreement includes the fine and upgrades to the companies’ websites. Viacom will pay $500,000, Mattel $250,000 and JumpStart $85,000.
Hasbro will not pay a penalty because it is part of a “safe harbor program” through the Federal Trade Commission that already requires more disclosures of Web activity, Schneiderman said.
The companies said they will conduct regular scans to monitor for third-party tracking technology and take other measures to ensure their sites are safe, Schneiderman said. The companies also will have to report their efforts to Schneiderman’s office.
Federal law prohibits the unauthorized collection of personal information on websites aimed at children under age 13.
Spector reports for Gannett’s Albany, N.Y., bureau.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday announced the results of “Operation Child Tracker.”