Xanga Fined $1 Million By The FTC

Xanga was fined $1 million dollars by the FTC today which is the largest penalty ever under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Xanga is a weblog community, or social networking site similar to FaceBook or the ever evil MySpace.

The complaint from the FTC, apparently accompaning the fine, states that Xanga "allowed" several million users under the age of 13 to sign up, which is the age at which, when the user is under, a website cannot collect personal information.

On Xanga, when the user signed up, the user had to check a checkbox indicating they were over 13 years old. On other sites, the user had to enter in their birthday. Neither method stops a child from lying, nor does anything to actually verify the age, so I fail to see the difference in verification methods. Is it any harder for a child to enter a fake birthday?

This could be a slippery slope as there are many free sites that collect some sort of personal information which do no verification at all.