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Game sites agree to child-friendly rules

The Better Business Bureau says two Web sites have agreed to standards for parental consent and data collection to comply with the bureau's guidelines and federal law.

The Better Business Bureau has claimed a victory in its battle to make Web sites more child friendly.

The Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the organization said Wednesday that Scan-command.com and Namcoarcade.com agreed to make changes to their sites to comply with its child-protection guidelines. CARU can solicit investigations by the Federal Trade Commission if a company continues to violate its principles or the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Scan-command.com, operated by Knowledge Adventure, offers online games for children older than 8; Namcoarcade.com, operated by Namco Cybertainment, offers video-game previews, tips, discussions and news about video game software.

The agreements underscore ongoing efforts by CARU and other advocates to make the Web a safer place for children. In one of the highest-profile cases, the Better Business Bureau found AltaVista did not adequately keep children from visiting adult-only areas. AltaVista later abandoned many of its community features, including bulletin boards, chat rooms and online registration. The company said the decision was part of a planned overall restructuring of its services.

In the past, CARU also reprimanded Walt Disney for allowing children who register on Disney.com to easily visit the company's now-defunct Go.com Web portal and access adult online chat rooms.

With its latest agreements, CARU said Scan-command will stop collecting offline information from children younger than 13 before obtaining consent from a parent, a practice that is forbidden under COPPA. Scan-command also agreed to instill only one registration process that included parental notification and consent. Meanwhile, Namco has complied with CARU's guidelines, modifying its site to address the privacy of children younger than 13 through its privacy policy and registration process, CARU said.