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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Urges Parents and Coaches to Develop Policies for Posting Minors’ Information Online

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837

SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today urged parents, coaches and officials for youth sports to develop protective policies related to minors’ personal information, particularly for information posted online.

Attorney General Harris also announced that after an inquiry from her office, GameChanger, a popular sports statistics website, has updated its privacy policy and practices to better protect minors. The action comes as more and more information about minors is being posted online, often without adult consent.

“Most parents probably do not realize that the simple act of signing a child up for soccer or Little League could put enough information online to put the minor in harm’s way,” said Attorney General Harris. “While the Internet makes tracking games and statistics easier, it is important that parents, coaches, school officials and volunteers all are informed and think carefully about any information that is put online, especially when it pertains to children.”

GameChanger updated its privacy policy and put new protections for minors in place after an inquiry from Attorney General Harris’s Privacy Enforcement & Protection Unit.

The changes include: not allowing anyone under the age of 13 to sign up or post on the site; removing last names of team members under the age of 13; and providing privacy information pertaining to minors to users when teams are added to the website.

The inquiry into GameChanger’s policies came after the Attorney General’s office was contacted by a parent who was concerned about the amount of information being posted on the site. Information included on the site for some teams included the teams’ travel schedule, child’s statistics, full name and nicknames.

“I was disturbed when I realized so much information about my son’s team was being posted without my permission,” said Amanda Biers-Melcher of Burbank. “I appreciate Attorney General’s Harris’s assistance with the company and dedication to helping protect the privacy of our children.”

The Attorney General’s Privacy Unit will work with parents and sports leagues to develop best practices for handling children’s personal information in youth sports programs.

Here are tips for anyone who is involved in youth sports:

Playing It Safe with Children’s Information: Tips for Parents

Youth sports teams provide great opportunities for our children to engage in exercise, while learning valuable lessons about team work, healthy competition and fair play. When signing your children up for such activities, be mindful of the need to protect their personal information.

Ask if the team or league will post any of the child’s personal identifying information – such as name, address, school or photo on a website. Tell them if you do not want your child’s information posted online.

  • Ask questions about any request for your child’s Social Security number, health insurance number or birth certificate. Propose alternatives, such as the following: 
    • Instead of turning over a copy of a birth certificate, offer to show a copy of the child’s birth certificate and ask that the birth date be entered in the records and noted as verified.
    • Resist providing the Social Security number. In most cases, the child’s Social Security number should not be necessary.
    • Insist that a health insurance number, if required, be protected with strong security measures, such as locking it in an office file cabinet or encrypting it if in a digital format.   
  • Ask if the team or league has a written privacy policy, and ask for a copy. If they don’t have one, encourage them to develop an official policy statement that describes the kinds of personal information they collect, how they use it and how it is shared. (Note: If they collect personal information through a website, they may be required to post a privacy policy on the site.)
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