Aerial of Mattel headquarters. Photo by Jelson25 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
Aerial of Mattel headquarters. Photo by Jelson25 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
El Segundo-based Mattel and three other companies have agreed to stop using tracking technology on their popular children’s websites, or allow other entities to do so, as part of a settlement with New York state’s attorney general.

The settlements announced by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are with Mattel, Viacom, Hasbro and JumpStart Games. They require Mattel, Viacom and JumpStart to pay penalties totaling $835,000 following a two-year investigation into violations of the 1998 federal law that prohibits unauthorized collection of children’s personal information on websites directed at users under 13, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Penalties are $500,000 for Viacom, $250,000 for Mattel and $85,000 for JumpStart. Hasbro won’t pay a penalty because it was enrolled in a Federal Trade Commission-approved online-privacy program that had some problems, according to the attorney general’s office.

All four companies allowed tracking technology such as cookies on their websites in violation of the law,  Schneiderman said, according to The Times. Such technology can be used by marketers and advertisers to target potential customers.      Schneiderman said that when the companies were notified they were in violation of New York law, “they took immediate action.”

The  offending websites included Mattel’s Barbie, Hot Wheels and American Girl; Viacom’s Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon; JumpStart’s Neopets; and Hasbro’s My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop and Nerf.

All four companies signed agreements to regularly scan their children’s websites to screen advertisers’ or others’ data-collection practices to ensure legal compliance and update their privacy policies, The Times reported.

—City News Service

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