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COPPA LAW UPDATE - Status of forums & chat


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Posted by by: love2 / FOR: Jeff Barringer on April 25, 2000 at 13:16:44:

We have been conferring with our attorneys since yesterday and
while they are still gathering information, based on our
preliminary discussions here is what we have determined:

The law does directly impact and effect 4 features on each web site that we own.
The 4 areas directly impacted are:
- Email List
- Classifieds
- Chat
- Forums/Message Boards

The chats, classifieds, and message boards are covered under
the stricter part of the law requiring heavy verification.

Chat Rooms - Due in part to the fact that we have no control
over the IRC software used to access the rooms, nor do we have
control over the JAVA applets used to access the rooms, we cannot
make the software compliant with the law. Because we cannot afford
to have full time moderators (read employees) 24 hours a day we cannot
manually make the rooms compliant either. As such, starting Thursday
April 27th we will officially close our chat rooms to daily use. I invite all
kingsnake.com users to join me Wednesday night in the main room located at
http://www.kingsnake.com/chat for one final last blowout chat party.
I will bring the beer(oops) and chips, can someone bring the bean dip?

* We will open the chat rooms for guest chats and the 3rd annual chat week
in December since these are moderated chats. Also the chat page will be
listing links to NON-COMMERICIAL reptile and amphibian chat rooms.
If you own a non-commercial web site NOT hosted on kingsnake.com's servers
and would like to have your chat room listed please send me an e-mail
with the URL or in the case of pure IRC rooms the access information.

Classifieds/Forums - Both of these fall under the message board
portion of the law and will require some type of username password system
to be built. We are currently reviewing the law and other sites
that are COPPA compliant to see how they are complying. This will be
a multi-phased implementation, with a very basic mechanism at first
to bring us into compliance rapidly, and then a much more refined
and sophisticated system later. You may see several systems come into place
and then be replaced or modified. Initially we will not allow
children under the age of 13 to post messages, but once the refined
system is in place we will have the capabilities to allow them posting
privileges. At this point we don't know if credit cards will be used
in the verification process. Please be patient while we find out more
information.

We aren't sure what our policy will be regarding our mailing lists but
since they are covered under this less stringent measures of the law
we expect only slight modifications to our existing systems.

So let me recap -

Chat Rooms - going away Thursday, except for guest chats and special events.
We will link to non-commercial 3rd party chat rooms from our chat page.

Forums - Staying, but will get some type of username password system
Children under the age of 13 will be blocked from posting for a short period.
Implementation of username/password system will begin soon, but no specific
date as of yet.

Mailing lists - staying, almost no changes required

P.S. If you would like to comment on the COPPA law in general
there is a message board at ZDNet at the url link below. If we raise
enough cain there is a chance someone with money will get a
restraining order and prevent the immediate implementation of the
law.

http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2554856,00.html

P.P.S. If someone has some extra time today and would like to be
helpful, they can post this message in some of the other forums and
help stop some of the rumors. We will be writing an official policy change
notice for posting tomorrow that outlines the law and our measures to
obtain compliance. This is going to cost me a great deal of money
unfortunately. Most of the major sites are spending $500,000 or more
to get compliant.



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