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Thread: Happy Birthday!

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    Happy Birthday!

    'We at Windows Secrets Lounge would like to wish you a happy birthday today!'

    How, exactly, did Windows Secrets know this little secret?

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    You must have provided it when you registered.

    Joe

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    4 Star Lounger I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
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    That is correct Joe. We require a birthdate be submitted at registration to comply with COPPA: http://www.coppa.org/comply.htm

    Our server sends automated birthday notices to each member on the date they input when the registered.
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    Quote Originally Posted by I.M.O.G. View Post
    That is correct Joe. We require a birthdate be submitted at registration to comply with COPPA: http://www.coppa.org/comply.htm

    Our server sends automated birthday notices to each member on the date they input when the registered.
    I just followed your link, and it says "This Account Has Been Suspended." What's going on here?

    Here's a link to the FTC Site where COPPA is detailed:

    http://www.ftc.gov/ogc/coppa1.htm

    For non-lawyers, this is the 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Windows Secrets Lounge has to verify that we are all of adult age here (or at least over thirteen).
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2012-03-09 at 06:01.
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    4 Star Lounger I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    I just followed your link, and it says "This Account Has Been Suspended." What's going on here?
    It looks like coppa.org didn't pay their hosting bill, thats often the message you see when a site doesn't pay their bills and the hosting company shuts the site down. I just linked to the first site I found explaining coppa, and that link was working last week when I posted it.

    Your link is good though, it explains what it is... The link I had used was less lawyer speak, and easier to understand.
    Last edited by I.M.O.G.; 2012-03-09 at 12:10.
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    There is still a problem here, and lawyers are welcome to chime in on it. You collected information for one valid and legally-required reason, and then used that information for a different and unrelated purpose. Presumably the legislators who wrote the law failed to include any confidentiality clause, but to the hapless sap in a world with 'vultures, vultures everywhere' a 'Happy Birthday' from out of the blue might be scary stuff. You weren't given the information for the purpose to which you put it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogberry View Post
    You weren't given the information for the purpose to which you put it.
    You remember being told only one reason when you gave the information?

    (Seems unlikely when you didn't remember having given the information.)

    Bruce

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    A Red Cape

    Quote Originally Posted by BruceR View Post
    You remember being told only one reason when you gave the information?

    (Seems unlikely when you didn't remember having given the information.)

    Bruce
    You are entirely correct about that. Many sites ask the question and send a birthday greeting, and this is one time and forum where I decided to query the 'nosiness'. (Some questionnaires are vastly nosier, but that has to do with contacts.)

    No, I didn't know why they wanted the information, and it is gratifying to hear that there is a law that requires them to collect it. I am very sorry to see that we haven't successfully linked to the law itself, because there is a big difference between 'thirteen or older' and 'date of birth'. One or two programs I have, Copernic Agent Professional and Copernic Summarizer, specifically ask if you are 'thirteen year of age or older' without asking your date of birth, which is far more intrusive. It would be interesting to see what the law specifies.

    This all sounds like kid stuff, if you'll pardon the expression, when I dish out my credit card number and street address and telephone number and email address to make purchases online (and the credit card company has mountains of data on me), but all of that is for the purpose of the transaction.

    The age question has a purpose as well, but I was not asked to consent to receive 'Happy Birthday' greetings on my birthday nor was I warned that I would be subjected to them. Waving personal and private information information in someone's face is like waving a red cape at a bull. There are people who specialize in doing exactly that. It isn't kid stuff.

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    4 Star Lounger I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
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    Good grief!

    Quote Originally Posted by dogberry View Post
    I am very sorry to see that we haven't successfully linked to the law itself, because there is a big difference between 'thirteen or older' and 'date of birth'.
    Please read accurately. Refer to post #4 above, where the legal code regarding COPPA is linked successfully. It was also linked correctly by me, although I have no control over whether sites I link to pay their hosting bills - I could not predict the site would be unavailable a week later.

    You provide the birthdate at registration. If you don't want to provide your birthdate, you should have provided a fake one - we have no means by which to verify them, so we trust what people give us.

    We do not run custom forum software. The software that powers the lounge is called vbulletin. We use their standard registration components, which prompt for birthdate in order to comply with coppa. Every vbulletin site you can find on the internet does the same.

    You opted into receiving emails from administrators as well as from other members. If you don't want to receive a birthday email, or other emails, you can turn them off in your account options.

    The birthday email is sent to you and no one else, and you know your birthday already. We know your birthday because you told us your birthday. We don't tell anyone else what your birthday is.

    Here is the google cache version of the Coppa page I linked to previously:
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&ct=clnk&gl=us
    Last edited by I.M.O.G.; 2012-03-10 at 01:15.
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    bobprimak (2012-03-11)

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    Quote Originally Posted by I.M.O.G. View Post
    The birthday email is sent to you and no one else, and you know your birthday already.
    So the purpose of the birthday email is?

    To provoke discussions like this one?

    Bruce

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogberry View Post
    I am very sorry to see that we haven't successfully linked to the law itself, because there is a big difference between 'thirteen or older' and 'date of birth'. One or two programs I have, Copernic Agent Professional and Copernic Summarizer, specifically ask if you are 'thirteen year of age or older' without asking your date of birth, which is far more intrusive. It would be interesting to see what the law specifies.
    An "I'm 13 or older" check box is specifically excluded from being sufficient by COPPA (or at least by the FTC who issue and enforce rules under it):

    For sites that choose to age-screen, age information should be asked in a way that does not invite falsification.

    ... should you choose to block children under 13, it is important that you design your age collection input screens in a manner that does not encourage children to provide a false age in order to gain access to your site.

    Ask age information in a neutral manner at the point where you invite visitors to provide personal information or to create their log-in user ID. In designing a neutral age-screening mechanism, you might consider:

    Not encouraging children to falsify their age information, for example, by stating that visitors under 13 cannot participate on your website or should ask their parents before participating. In addition, a site that does not ask for neutral date of birth information but rather simply includes a check box stating “I am over 12 years old” would not be considered a neutral age-screening mechanism.

    Frequently Asked Questions about the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule


    Bruce

    P.S. It appears to me that if we were told, at the time of asking, the reason that a date of birth was required for registration, then that would not comply with COPPA!
    Last edited by BruceR; 2012-03-10 at 12:50.

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    A lot of legalese there, Bruce R, but very comprehensive.

    Many sites, including Facebook and MySpace, have historically been quite explicit as to why they needed age verification. COPPA did not change those sites, as far as I know. They still are very upfront about verifying that users are at least thirteen years of age, and the point is also made explicitly in their Terms of Use Statements.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2012-03-11 at 04:34.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Many sites, including Facebook and MySpace, have historically been quite explicit as to why they needed age verification. COPPA did not change those sites, as far as I know. They still are very upfront about verifying that users are at least thirteen years of age, and the point is also made explicitly in their Terms of Use Statements.
    Facebook (2004) and MySpace (2003) didn't exist before COPPA (2000), and they wouldn't have an age 13 limit if it were not for that legislation:

    Zuckerberg: Kids under 13 should be allowed on Facebook

    Bruce

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceR View Post
    So the purpose of the birthday email is?

    To provoke discussions like this one?

    Bruce
    In some cultures, it is considered friendly to wish someone a happy birthday. The purpose of the birthday email is just to be friendly. Often people reply stating thank you, and I see those email replies. I usually see a few of them each day. Rarely, I see one from people who mention thanks, and that they didn't hear that from anyone else that day. While in some ways sad, I'm glad they heard it from us at least.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceR View Post
    Facebook (2004) and MySpace (2003) didn't exist before COPPA (2000), and they wouldn't have an age 13 limit if it were not for that legislation:

    Zuckerberg: Kids under 13 should be allowed on Facebook

    Bruce
    Nevertheless, I am glad Zuckerberg does not make the rules .
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