To: The Game Industry
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: It0x92s all about Trust not TRUSTe
Date: April 2000

Iím really sorry that the industry didnít regulate itself and I am really sorry that the government has to. After two years of waiting for the industry to protect the privacy of children, the government stepped in to require that parents be informed as to what data is being collected from their 13 year olds and how it will be used. No more counting on TRUSTe© to state that a site has a policy regarding privacy, while in fine print the actual policy could and often did say that information could be passed on to other companies. It was hard enough to read the TRUSTe© statement - how many of us searched the pages to find the actual privacy statement?

Now sites have to prove that the parent who sayís itís OK is really the parent and not a dog. If a stalker can pretend he is an 8 year old girl - whatís to stop a 10 year old pretending to be 13 or even the parent? How will the sites know? More stringent validation, such as fax and phone, is required when the data are to be shared with third parties. I can just see parents hanging up on what they presume to be tele-marketers calling at dinnertime. And I donít see overworked parents coming home to write letters or faxing their permissions.

The industry has to build up the publicís trust. Sites have to do more than just to say that they protect the visitorís privacy, and it may take a while to work out solutions. They may consider giving up the name/id game until the target group is old enough to own charge cards. Charging a subscription fee and requiring the parent to pay by check would provide both the signature and a valid address. Maybe everyone will just have to wait for encrypted signature keys to become popular. Me, I tell my kids to lie about any information given on the Internet.