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November 13, 2012 > Policies for posting minors' information online

Policies for posting minors' information online

Submitted By the Office of the state Attorney General

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris urges parents, coaches and officials for youth sports to develop protective policies related to minors' personal information, particularly for information posted online.

Harris also announced that after an inquiry from her office, GameChanger, a popular sports statistics website, has updated its privacy policy and practices to better protect minors. The action comes as an increasing amount of information about minors appears online, often without adult consent.

"Most parents probably do not realize that the simple act of enrolling a child for soccer or Little League could put enough information online to put the minor in harm's way," said Harris. "While the Internet makes tracking games and statistics easier, it's important that parents, coaches, school officials and volunteers are informed and consider any information to post online, especially when it pertains to children."

GameChanger updated its privacy policy and put new protections for minors in place after an inquiry from Harris's Privacy Enforcement & Protection Unit.

The changes include: not allowing anyone under the age of 13 to sign up or post on the site; removing last names of team members under the age of 13; and providing privacy information pertaining to minors to users when teams are added to the website.

The inquiry into GameChanger's policies came after the Attorney General's office was contacted by a parent who was concerned about the amount of information being posted on the site. For some teams, information included travel schedule, child's statistics, full name and nicknames.

"I was disturbed when I realized so much information about my son's team was being posted without my permission," said Amanda Biers-Melcher of Burbank. "I appreciate Attorney General Harris' assistance with the company and dedication to helping protect the privacy of our children."

The Attorney General's Privacy Unit will work with parents and sports leagues to develop best practices for handling children's personal information in youth sports programs.

Youth sports teams provide great opportunities for children to engage in exercise and learn valuable lessons about team work, healthy competition and fair play. When enrolling your children for such activities, be careful to protect their personal information.

Ask if the team or league will post any of the child's personal identifying information, such as name, address, school or photo on a website. Tell them if you do not want your child's information posted online.

Ask questions about any request for your child's Social Security number, health insurance number or birth certificate. Propose alternatives.

For instance, instead of handing over a copy of a birth certificate, offer to show a copy and ask that the child's date of birth be entered in the records and noted as verified. Resist providing the Social Security number. In most cases, the child's Social Security number should not be necessary. Insist that a health insurance number, if required, be protected with strong security measures, such as locking it in an office file cabinet or encrypting it, if in a digital format. Ask if the team or league has a written privacy policy and ask for a copy. If they do not, encourage them to develop an official policy statement that describes the kinds of personal information they collect, how they use it and how it is shared. (Note: If they collect personal information through a website, they may be required to post a privacy policy on the site.)

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