CARU Recommends Build-A-Bear Modify Website to Address Privacy Concerns; Company Does So

New York, NY – May 14, 2013 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit recommended that Build-a-Bear Inc., operator of Buildabear.com, install a neutral age-screening mechanism at the site and eliminate links to the adult-directed sites Pinterest and Twitter that do not age screen. The company said it will do so.

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

CARU monitors websites for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, including guidelines on Online Privacy Protection, as well as with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Advertisers must obtain prior “verifiable parental consent” when they collect personal information from children under the age of 13, including email addresses or phone numbers.

Children are directed to Buildabear.com by a television advertisement that references the website.

At Buildabear.com, visitors can create an account that allows them to play bear-themed games, download desktop themes and shop for Build-A-Bear merchandise. To create an account, visitors must enter an email address, password and birthdate. CARU noted during its initial review of the site that children under the age of 13 who wanted to register for an account could circumvent the age-screening mechanism by hitting the back button.

Elsewhere on the site, CARU noted, were links to other areas of the Internet – Twitter and Pinterest – that are directed to adults and do not age-screen.

In response to CARU’s inquiry, the company said that a session cookie designed to prevent visitors from circumventing the age-screening process had been inadvertently overwritten and had since been restored.

Further, the company said it would remove links to Twitter and Pinterest from the site’s front page.

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it “shares CARU’s goals for ensuring children’s safety and privacy on the Internet and thanks CARU for bringing these issues to its attention. Build-A-Bear Workshop welcomed this opportunity to work with CARU and is pleased with the satisfactory conclusion of CARU’s inquiry.”