BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Recommends Boys Scouts Of America Modify Website To Better Protect Children’s Privacy

New York, NY – Oct. 13, 2010 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., has recommended that Boy Scouts of America, operator of the Website, take steps to better protect the privacy of children who visit the site. BSA has agreed to do so. 

CARU, the children’s advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, monitors Websites for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, including guidelines on Online Privacy Protection, as well as with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The Website came to the attention of CARU through CARU’s routine monitoring practices. An advertisement for the site appeared in an issue of Boys Life, a magazine published by BSA.

Through the Website, visitors can purchase materials and create race cars for the “Pinewood Derby,” a race for model cars made by individual Boy Scouts. The site provides helpful tips, offers ideas for “race day” and includes features that allow visitors to create virtual car designs, choosing different colors and parts. 

Upon its initial review of the site, CARU determined that visitors could use most of the features without registering or providing any personal information. However, visitors were required to register – and provide personally identifiable information (PII) during that process – to upload pictures and videos of Pinewood Derby cars and participate in other activities. In addition, visitors who chose to email pictures and videos to a friend were also required to disclose PII.

CARU determined that the registration process and e-mail feature were not in compliance with the Guidelines and COPPA, which require that Website operators must obtain verifiable parental consent prior to disclosing PII of children under 13 to others.

In response to CARU’s inquiry, BSA agreed to change the language on its homepage to read, “Parents or guardians, sign up your Scout!” and modify the “email to a friend” feature to prevent the disclosure of PII. 

“We agreed with CARU’s recommendations,” BSA said in its advertiser’s statement.