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    Posted by Bernie Dietz
    Categories: Legal Protection

    Do I need to worry about complying with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act ("COPPA")?  It’s a question I get from time to time from website owners and is commonly misunderstood.  The COPPA was enacted to protect the privacy and personal information of children, those under the age of 13, online. 

    The initial analysis of whether you have to consider the COPPA with your website is an analysis of your website itself.  The COPPA applies to operators of websites in two major instances:

    1. when the website is directed to children (or partially directed to children).  I would guess most people know whether their site is directed or targeted to children but if you don’t, look at the site – does it have cartoons? animation?  is the subject matter such that children would be interested in it? are ads on the site directed towards children? If the answer is "Yes," you need to comply with the COPPA.
    2. when you know that you are collecting information from children.  If you do, you need to comply with the COPPA.

    If you answered "no" to the questions above, you still may want to restrict access to your site, in your terms of use agreement and privacy policy, to those over the age of 13 (or 18 or above if you have no interest in serving kids). Or, to play it safe, you may choose to comply with the COPPA requirements anyway.

    If you answered "yes" or think there is a chance you might be subject to the COPPA, then you should take steps to comply with the specific rules of the COPPA.  There is a long list of what you must disclose, and how you must disclose it, to visitors of your site and what you may and may not do with the information but its not very complicated.  You can find a handy checklist at COPPA.org to help you navigate the requirements.

    If you want a review of your privacy policy or website for potential COPPA implications, I provide that as part of my website audit process .  If you would like to discuss this, please contact me for more information.


    Posted: June 6th, 2007 at 8:48 pm | | Email Post | Add comment
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    Posted by Bernie Dietz
    Categories: Strategic Deals

    Google has released Hot Trends, a new feature that provides an ever-updated list of the 100 top search terms on Google.com.  It will also provide a historical view of popular search terms.  If your online business is built around catching the wave of popularity, this may be a list that you want to watch. 

    Yahoo has a similar tool, Yahoo Buzz, that adds a nice feature by showing you the relative movement of the search terms from day to day.


    Posted: May 22nd, 2007 at 8:47 pm | | Email Post | Add comment
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    Posted by Bernie Dietz
    Categories: Strategic Deals

    Information Week has an excellent article entitled “How To Keep Hostile Jerks From Taking Over Your Online Community” that is well worth reading if you, like many of my internet clients, have user interaction features on your website. It discusses the challenges of managing a community website or forum to keep out the jerks that we have all seen infect a message board from time to time…


    Posted: May 16th, 2007 at 1:50 pm | | Email Post | Add comment
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    Posted by Bernie Dietz
    Categories: Legal Protection

    I don’t usually write about spam business opportunities that float around the web, hoping that all of my readers would automatically be skeptical and realize they are scams intended to part you of your money. However, I feel compelled to address one type of spam that is circulating just because of the volumes of email that I have been receiving asking me “is this legitimate???”

    The emails I’m talking about purport to come from many different places – China, the UK, Germany – but they all make the same type of offer. Basically, they want to offer you a job. An easy job. All you have to do is cash checks from their customers and send them the money (after taking a nice percentage for yourself, of course). They usually say you must transfer the money to them via Western Union because cashing checks drawn on U.S. banks is “too difficult” or “too expensive” or “impossible!”

    The reality is that if you sign up for this “job,” you will receive checks, money orders, cashiers checks, etc that will look real. They’ll look so real that your bank will initially accept them for deposit. But they’re not real. They’re fake. Any when your bank submits them “up the line” to collect the money, they will quickly realize this and deduct the provisional credit, if any, from your bank account. Of course, by this time you will have wired the money to your “employer” and won’t have any chance of getting that money back. You – not the bank, not the fake employer – will be left holding the loss.

    This is one of those “if it’s too good to be true…” opportunities that you should just ignore and delete.


    Posted: May 8th, 2007 at 3:52 pm | | Email Post | Add comment
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