COPPA & Privacy

Posted: 2021-06-15

One of the challenges of a service that includes children in the customer base is the rules concerning online privacy for anyone under 13 years old in the United States. The rule basically prohibits online services from collecting personal information from anyone under 13 years old without parental consent.

Some services handle this by putting in their terms of service that anyone under 13 is prohibited from using the service. That clearly wasn't an option for us. We wanted kids to be able to play our stories. But we had to do so without getting any personal information from them.

Normally services collect personal information so that a user can login. So we started out by eliminating the login step for Detectives. Once a Detective has the link to the story, they can play that story without providing any personal information to us.

Someone, though, has to tell us who the Detective is, right? The person who buys the story for the child must give us at a minimum their first name and tell us the pronouns to use. The thing is, we don't require or even encourage that to be the child's real name. We don't care if the child is referred to as Sir Humphrey or Knight Sparklypants. We just need a name, not their real one.

The person who buys the story also has to give us an email address to send the story to. We're not expecting that to be the child's email address, since most email services also require children to be at least 13 years old. Rather, we're expecting that to be the parent's email address.

So we are explicitly not asking for any personal information about the Detective.