On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) entered into a settlement with Nevada-based Prime Sites, Inc., doing business as Explore Talent, related to charges that Explore Talent violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  Explore Talent, an online talent search company, will pay $235,000 in civil penalties.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Explore Talent violated COPPA by collecting and disclosing children’s personal information without obtaining parental consent and by failing to represent accurately its collection, use, and disclosure practices.  Specifically, the FTC alleged that Explore Talent required that users—including children under 13—submit personal information, such as their names, email addresses, and telephone numbers and further requested that users provide mailing addresses and photographs.  Much of the personal information users provided became publicly available on users’ profiles on ExploreTalent.com.  Explore Talent did not provide notice to parents or obtain verifiable parental consent prior to such collection and disclosure.  In addition, Explore Talent did not place any restrictions on users who indicated they were under 13, nor did it take any steps to verify whether a profile was being created by a legal guardian, notwithstanding the instruction in its Privacy Policy that users under 13 must have a parent or legal guardian create their account.  As a result, the complaint alleged that Explore Talent falsely stated in its Privacy Policy that it did not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 13.

Separately, the complaint also alleged violations of the FTC Act related to Explore Talent’s claims regarding its premium services.