CARU Reviews Advertising For Website Operated By Club Libby Lu

New York, NY – August 14, 2008 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., has recommended that Club Libby Lu, operator of the Website www.clublibbylu.com, modify the site to assure it is in compliance with CARU’s self-regulatory guidelines for children’s advertising and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA.) The company has agreed to do so.

CARU, the children’s advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, reviewed the Website pursuant to CARU’s ongoing monitoring program.

The Website offers visitors a chance to learn more about Club Libby Lu, a chain of retail stores and event spaces catering to girls.  The site presents “behind-the-scenes pictures” and video footage of parties held at Club Libby Lu stores as well as coupons and promotions valid at the stores. 

Products displayed on the Website are for sale and linked to the site’s online retail section.  Visitors can purchase items to recreate their own Club Libby Lu makeover, including dress-up outfits, an ear piercing kit and spa kit. The Website also has free items such as games and wallpaper downloads.

Upon initial examination, CARU determined that visitors could create a shopping account for which they were asked to enter a name, address, phone number and e-mail along with a user name and password.  Although a credit card was requested prior to the purchase, it was not necessary to sign up for an account.   There was no language stating that one must be an adult with a credit card to establish a shopping account, nor was there neutral age screening or a request for parental information. 

Clublibbylu.com also featured free e-cards and other “forward to a friend” campaigns that disclosed the sender’s e-mail address in the recipient’s e-card.  Again, there was no verifiable parental consent obtained prior to such collection and disclosure. 

The Online Privacy Protection section of CARU’s guidelines and COPPA require that when a Website collects PII from children under 13 and allows information to be publicly distributed, via e-mail or otherwise, the Website operator must obtain verifiable parental consent prior to the collection.

Additionally, the Website’s privacy policy did not address the specific collection of PII from children at the Website or contain contact details, which both CARU’s Guidelines and COPPA require.

In view of the Website’s lack of verifiable parental consent prior to collecting and displaying information from children under 13, and the absence of detailed information collection practices and contact information in the privacy policy, CARU found that the Website was not operating in compliance with the Guidelines or COPPA.

Following CARU’s inquiry letter, the operator agreed to develop new privacy practices to ensure compliance with the Guidelines and COPPA.  CLL removed the registration feature so that children under the age of 13 cannot create a shopping account and enter PII.  In addition, CLL deleted the Website’s e-card and other “forward to a friend” components that disclosed a user’s personal information to a third-party recipient.   Given that the Website is no longer collecting or allowing the display of any PII from children under 13, CARU determined that there is no need for CLL to obtain verifiable parental consent. 

 Finally, while the Website is no longer collecting any PII from children under the age of 13, the operator recognizes that there will be children using the Website and has updated its privacy policy accordingly.  The revised privacy policy contains detailed information about its collection practices as well as the operator’s contact information.  The privacy policy also expressly requires that visitors making purchases be at least 18 years old.

CARU noted in its decision that it is pleased that CLL created and implemented new privacy measures to bring the Website into compliance with the guidelines and COPPA.

Club Libby Lu, in its advertiser’s statement, said it appreciates the opportunity to participate in the self-regulatory process and accepts CARU’s decisions.  “We fully support the important work CARU performs in protecting the privacy of children online and confirm our commitment to the same goal,” the company said.