BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Recommends CEC Entertainment Modify Chuck E. Cheese Website to Better Protect Children’s Privacy

Company Agrees to Do So

New York, NY – June 25,  2012 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that CEC  Entertainment, operator of the website, take steps to better protect of the privacy of child visitors to the site.
CARU is an investigative arm of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. CARU 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, or COPPA.

CARU was directed to the Website through a television commercial for the Chuck E. Cheese entertainment center, which aired during children’s programming. The commercial directed children to go to the Website where they could play games and win tickets redeemable for prizes at the restaurant.

CARU determined that the visitors to the site are encouraged to sign up for the chain’s “Email Club,” allowing access to coupons and other savings. Visitors seeking to join the email club are first required to enter an email address and then a birth year and a preferred Chuck E. Cheese location.

If the visitor entered a year corresponding to an age below 13, a message stated, “Sorry we are unable to process your request.  Please review the selected fields and requirements.”  If the visitor closed the message and entered a new birth year indicating an age 13 or over, the visitor could complete the registration process and move to a profile page that offered the option of entering an e-mail address, first name, last name, country, state, zip code, and gender.

Following its review, CARU determined that the website had a reasonable expectation that children under the age of 13 would be visiting.  As a result, CARU determined that its age-screening process was inadequate and required the addition of day and month of birth in order to effectively determine the age of its visitors.

CARU further recommended that the operator use a tracking mechanism, such as a session cookie, after the first instance of a visitor providing a date of birth that indicated they are under the age of 13 so that the visitor could not change the year of birth and continue to sign-up for the Email Club.

The company noted in its advertiser’s statement that it disagreed with CARU’s findings, but would “in the spirit of self-regulation,” follow CARU’s recommendations