Walmart.com and COPPA

The Child Online Privacy and Protection Act is meant to protect children 13 and younger, who use the web, from providing too much information. Walmart uses it in one case to filter email customer service queries. They ask for the user’s birth year, and clearly indicate that the number won’t be retained or used in any way, which is nice, but why ask at all?

The primary question they are trying to answer is, is this user 14 or older? The way they ask it, implies they not be correctly addressing the law. Are they using 13 1/2 year olds data, in violation of the law, or are they failing to collect 14 1/2 year olds data? If the number can’t be accurately used, why use it at all? Why not simply ask the user if they are 14 or older, unless they really are hanging onto that date and using it for something else, which is not indicated in their disclaimer.

Hopefully, if your company is dealing with COPPA, you’re not doing it like Walmart.