To : C. Lee Peeler
Thank you for this opportunity to respond to the guidelines being proposed for the Children's Privacy Protection Act. As the manager of a Web site geared to girls 8-12, I am certainly concerned about the protection and safety of my online audience, and about the ramifications of this act. It was very helpful to see the guidelines spelled out.
If you view the American Girl site, you will notice that we solicit quite a bit of input from our visitors. Each week we post a poll question and a help question that girls can respond to with their own advice. We also ask girls to send us their ideas for future poll questions and for submissions to our To Do Today feature---literally a new idea, activity, joke, tongue twister, or game to play every day. These areas of our site are truly the life blood. We post as much as we possibly can from girls. It is a forum upon which they depend. We do not collect e-mail addresses for any of these solicitations. Even if girls send them to us voluntarily, we do not use them in any way--not to respond, nor to store in any database. In addition, when we post a girl's submission we identify her only by first name, age, and state. This measure protects her anonymity yet acknowledges her contribution, thereby encouraging self-esteem. We edit out any information (names of acquaintances, specific places, etc.) that might make a girl identifiable in any specific way. We also encourage girls to use screen names as a measure of safety.
The one area in which we ask a girl to give us her e-mail address is if she wants a response to a question, comment, or suggestion sent to us through our E-mail Us button. Our wording is as follows:
Otherwise, the proposed guidelines seem in line with the measures our site has already taken voluntarily to protect the privacy of our young Internet audience.