CARU Refers Virtual Family Kingdom to FTC After Company Declines to Submit Response to Inquiry

New York, NY – Oct. 16,  2008 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit  of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., has referred Virtual Family Kingdom, Inc., to the FTC, after the company declined to respond to an inquiry about privacy practices at the Website www.virtualfamilykingdom.com.

The Website came to the attention of CARU, the children’s advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, through a consumer complaint.

Following its review of the site, CARU alerted the Website operator to the following concerns:

  • To register for the “Waiting List,” a feature which will alert registrant’s when the Virtual Family Kingdom Website becomes active, the operator requires the registrant to submit his/her first name, a character name and an email address.  However, the operator does not request a parent’s email address to provide notice of this personal information collection as required by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) or CARU’s guidelines.
  • The site fails to include offline contact information as required by COPPA
  • The  “Kids’ Privacy Policy” posted at the site references practices that do not currently exist,  such as obtaining prior parental consent before allowing children to register on the Website, offering a “Family Kingdom Kid’s E-Newsletter,” as well as offering chat, a message forum and instant messaging features. 

Given the operator’s failure to provide a substantive written response, CARU will, pursuant to its policies and procedures, refer this inquiry to the appropriate government agency.