Comments of Disney On-Line Concerning Consumer On-Line Privacy - P954807
Dear Mr. Clark:
This letter is in response to your Notice Requesting Public Comment related to Children's Online Privacy - specifically, questions 3.1 and 3.2, which we attach for your convenience as Exhibit A. Our responses describe the practice currently followed by Disney Online in the management of its Internet-based services. As we explain more fully below, however, some of those services are in the process of being launched. Our practices and procedures may change, therefore, as the services mature. We do not, however, expect to change our underlying policy of not using any information received from children for any marketing or promotional purpose, either inside or outside Disney, without parental consent.
Disney Online ("DOL") is engaged in the distribution of content via the World Wide Web portion of the Internet. DOL currently has three Internet services or sites: Disney.com - a commercial web site that informs families about a broad range of Disney-branded products and services (including, e.g., Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney Home Video, Disneyland, Disney Interactive, Walt Disney Records, The Disney Channel, Walt Disney Publishing and Walt Disney Television); Disney's Family.com - a parenting web site; and Disney's Daily Blast - a daily entertainment and information service designed for children ages 3-12. Disney.com is available without charge to users while Disney's Family.com (as of April 23, 1997) and Disney's Daily Blast are fee-based subscription services and are collectively referred to in this letter as the "Service". Each of the sites operated by DOL supports the RSACi ratings system and has been rated "Level 0."
Disney.com currently attracts approximately 200,000 guests each day, less than 20% of whom are under the age of 16, according to DOL's registration database. Guests do not need to register in order to use Disney.com. Registration is required for two reasons: (i) to enter a contest, sweepstakes or game (collectively, "Contests") which require the ability for Disney.com to notify winners, or (ii) to receive monthly promotional/informational newsletters from DOL.
There is no age restriction on who may register at Disney.com; however, Disney.com does differentiate between registrants over the age of 16 and those who are under the age of 16 (a copy of the Disney.com registration form is attached as Exhibit B). The form collects the following information from children: first name, last name, year of birth, e-mail address and parent's e-mail address. All registrants receive e-mail confirming their registration and when a child registers, his/her parent or guardian receives an e-mail (a copy of which is attached as Exhibit C), alerting them to the registration and providing instructions on how to delete the child's registration, if so desired. Although children are allowed to participate in Contests, notification and prizes are sent to their parents or guardians. No information collected from children is used for any marketing or promotional purposes whatsoever, either inside or outside Disney, without parental consent.
Disney.com uses the information collected from registrants over the age of 16 for two purposes: i) to inform an entrant to a Contest that they have won a prize: and ii) to send monthly promotional/informational newsletters. Registrants have the option to decline to receive promotional /informational newsletters from DOL at any time. On the registration form (Exhibit B), Disney.com specifically discloses to registrants that the information supplied during registration may be used by The Walt Disney Company, or its affiliated companies, for promotional purposes. The Disney.com registrant database has not been made available to any third party for any promotional purpose or further disclosure. In addition, DOL continues to work closely with the Children's Advertising Review Unit and the Center for Democracy and Technology in their efforts to develop voluntary policies regarding collection of personal information.
Clickstrearn information is used on the DOL services for both authentication purposes and for tracking aggregate traffic patterns. Except in the case of authentication, such information is never linked to personally identifiable information.
The Service is officially launching on April 23, 1997 and features a wide variety of new content each day, including games, stories, comics, activities, and kid-centric ESPN sports and ABC news. In the initial offering of the Service, individuals will be able to subscribe by (i) direct subscription through DOL; and (ii) subscription to The Microsoft Network ("MSN"). DOL does not collect any information from MSN members. Individuals who subscribe directly through DOL will complete an online subscription form (a copy of which is attached as Exhibit D), which includes billing information along with e-mail address. Persons under the age of 18 are prohibited from subscribing (see the Member Agreement attached as Exhibit E). No information is collected from children on the registration form.
Information is gathered from users in certain other content areas of the Service, such as "Every JPEG Tells a Story", an area where users are encouraged to submit a caption to a photograph posted on the Service and "AJ's Improv", a daily joke where users are encouraged to submit jokes for display on the Service. Disney's Family.com encourages users to post messages on Family.com's bulletin boards and to submit their favorite recipes which will be included in a guest recipe book to be incorporated in the Service in the coming months. Users are asked to provide a phone number so the food editor of Disney's Family.com can contact them with questions related to their submission. In addition, DOL contemplates additional areas where users are encouraged to interact with the Service by e-mail submissions to DOL. These submissions are not used for any purpose other than that specified in the area in which such submission is solicited. An e-mail confirming receipt of each submission is sent to the e-mail address of record to notify the adult subscriber that a submission has been received.
We hope this response is helpful in the Federal Trade Commission's inquiry into collection of personal information from commercial web sites. Because of the pressing demands of launching and managing the on-line services described here, DOL will not be available to participate in the proposed Public Workshops. However, DOL fully supports the Federal Trade Commission's efforts to collect information on this and other consumer-privacy questions, and we are available to answer any additional questions you may have.