Everloop, a site geared toward children between the ages of eight to thirteen, is the “Facebook” for the younger set. It offers strict parental controls that allow mom and dad to monitor what their children are doing on the site.
However, just because parents can control what their own kids see, is Everloop doing its part to keep kids’ personal information private?
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces a law known as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which gives parents control over what information websites can collect from their kids.
And any site aimed at kids under thirteen – including Everloop — is required to comply with COPPA. In accordance with that law, Everloop has not just one, but two privacy policies – the first is a global policy and the second is a youth-oriented policy.
However, it is ultimately up to parents to review the privacy policies on these kid-focused sites. After all, if a website claims it has no limits about what personal information it collects or who gets to see it, remember they really mean there are no limits!
Everloop’s two policies are, for the most part, abundantly clear. While some of the information is disjointed in places, it is actually written in plain English. Among other topics, it explains that Everloop collects the following:
- Your child’s name, parent’s email address, parent’s password, credit card information, billing address, child’s birthdate, display name, and child’s password.
- Additional personal information from parents in order to allow their children to participate in certain features located on the site, including one-to-one instant message chatting, voice chatting, sending email both to friends and to email address outside of the site, posting on site message boards, and other similar activities.
- In the course of a child’s participation in these features, the policy adds “a child may also reveal to us additional information about himself or herself, such as the contents of his or her chat or message board postings. We will not solicit information from a child. All personal information that we collect come from the child’s parent.”
Everloop also notes that it collects users’ IP addresses and cookies. The policy states:
“Cookies, web beacons, and other technical methods may involve the transmission of information either directly to us or to another party authorized by us to collect information on our behalf. Some business partners (such as tracking utility companies) may place cookies on our site. We do not have any access or control of these third party cookies.”
And in order to keep the cost to Everloop members free or low-cost, Everloop does allow third parties to advertise on its site. The policy claims that it never shares personally identifiable information about children, such as their email addresses, and doesn’t allow those companies to directly solicit or advertise to its members. However, it does sell your kids’ browsing habits and what they find popular, otherwise known as “site usage” in this part of the policy:
“We also may use information in the aggregate to analyze site usage, as well as – in some cases — to offer products, programs, or services either through passive display of such information or via direct communication.”
Asking the Tough Questions
If you’re not clear on Everloop’s practices or policies, simply contact them for clarification via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call them at (877) 677-2607. If you prefer instead to delete your child’s account, send an email to email@example.com.
But if you actually think Everloop (or any website your kids visit) has collected or disclosed information from your kids, or marketed to them in a way that violates the law, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or call (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357).
While it definitely seems that Everloop has provided parents with ample explanations about how it uses and shares information about its members, remember that nothing is 100% safe. In one section of the policy, Everloop declares:
“Despite our best efforts, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable.”
And in one final warning at the end of the policy, Everloop again speaks directly to parents:
“The Internet offers a world of opportunity for children. Your guidance and involvement are essential to help ensure that children have a safe and rewarding online experience. We encourage you to stay involved in and informed about what your child is doing online. Your efforts to instill responsible information practices will help steer your children to age-appropriate sites and will go a long way toward ensuring that your children have enriching experiences online.”