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No doubt, there are a lot of talented kids out there. Aspiring young actors, singers, dancers, models and other artists often network to find auditions, casting calls and other professional opportunities. Online talent search companies often advertise that they can help make dreams come true. These companies may ask for information about budding artists, including names, postal and email addresses and phone numbers.

In their eagerness and excitement, children may think it’s okay to share information about themselves online — especially if it means getting a gig they really want. As a parent, you know better. You have control over the personal information companies collect online from your kids under 13. This includes your child’s name, address, phone number, email address, and, in some instances, information the companies can use to track your child’s online activities. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives you tools to do that. If a site or service is covered by COPPA, it has to get your permission before collecting personal information from your child and it has to honor your choices.

According to the FTC, a Nevada corporation failed to follow the law and is now paying the price. The FTC alleges that Explore Talent allowed children under age 13 to set up online user accounts and profiles. Explore Talent required children who set up accounts to submit personal information, including contact information, gender, and birthdate, including year, and also requested that users submit detailed physical descriptions. The FTC alleges that Explore Talent has collected, used, and disclosed children’s personal information without accurately describing its practices, and without notifying or obtaining consent from children’s parents. Much of the personal information provided by users in setting up their online accounts became publicly available on users’ profiles. Despite these practices, Explore Talent falsely represented in its Privacy Policy that it did not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 13.

The proposed federal court order would stop these business practices and would also bar the defendants from engaging in other practices that have caused injury to consumers.

If you think a site has collected information from your kids or marketed to them in a way that violates the law, report it to the FTC. Need help talking to your kids about online safety? Check out Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online as the basis for the conversation.

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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