Published: December 2014

Topps trading cards company violates child protection laws

Consumer Action joined coalition advocates in urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Topps candy and trading card company for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule. Through its websites that are marketed to children, Topps collected personal information, including photos and online contact information, from users that were under 13 years old without providing notice to parents or obtaining verifiable parental consent.

In a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advocates claim Topps candy and trading cards company, owned by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, collected personal information and photos from children without parental permission through its Candymania website for contests aimed at kids, including #RockThatRock, a promotion for Bazooka's Ring Pop candy. Topps owns Bazooka. Photos collected through the promotion were then used for the company's social media marketing.

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule prohibits companies from collecting personally identifying information from children younger than 13 without parental permission. Topps made no effort to provide notice to parents about the information collected or to obtain advance, verifiable parental consent as required by the COPPA Rule. Additionally, Topps violated the COPPA Rule by failing to post its children’s privacy policy in a prominent manner, failing to provide a complete and understandable privacy policy, conditioning a child’s participation in the contest on disclosing more information than was reasonably necessary, and retaining children’s personal information for longer than reasonably necessary.

“Topps and its partners cynically sought to bypass COPPA’s key safeguard that parents must first be told about a company’s data collection practices before their child’s information is gathered,” explained Jeff Chester, CDD’s executive director. "This is a textbook study of how online marketers are so eager to use Facebook and other social media to promote their products to friends and even strangers, they ignore this key law designed to protect consumer privacy online. Companies such as Topps need to carefully review all their digital marketing practices to make sure they are adhering to COPPA, and also are marketing their products in a responsible manner. The FTC must do more, however, to ensure that COPPA is effectively enforced. It must devote more resources to protect the privacy of children, and begin examining contemporary digital data-driven practices more thoroughly.”

 

Lead Organization

Center for Digital Democracy (CDD)

Other Organizations

Center for Digital Democracy | American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry | Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood | Center for Science in the Public Interest | Consumer Action | Consumer Federation of America | Consumer Watchdog | Consumers Union | The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity | United Church of Christ | Office of Communication, Inc.

More Information

To read the entire request for investigation, please click here.

For more information, visit CDD's website.

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