The video gaming industry, in the shadow of looming government legislation, has decided to pull the first punch and release guidelines of its own to protect children's privacy online.
The Interactive Digital Software Association, which represents the majority of US video and PC games publishers, plans to put together a set of rules over the collection and use of information on the Internet. The IDSA hopes it will show the government that the industry is capable of private sector regulation and that there is no need for legislative intervention.
Although President Clinton has said he wishes to take a very "hands off" approach to data collection laws, the Internet industry has until the end of this month to show its commitment to protecting the privacy of consumers.
Unless this is done it is likely that the US will pass similar legislation to the European Union?s Data Protection Directive, which gives consumers control over their information.
The video games industry currently collects a massive amount of personal consumer data through registration cards and demo game registrations. The companies claim this information enables them to have a more interactive relationship with their user base - it can, however, also be used to push products via spamming, for example. Databases of customer information are also open to being sold on to third parties.
The guidelines, which are likely to be released next week by the IDSA, will look to stop companies collecting information such as email addresses and phone numbers from children under the age of 13 without parental consent. Companies will also be asked to notify parents before soliciting information from children "older than 12 and under 18".
IDSA members that have signed up to the guidelines include Nintendo, Sega, Lucas Arts, Electronic Arts, GT Interactive, and Sony. The guidelines are expect to come into force next spring and companies following them will have a ?seal of approval? to reassure parents.
Spray-on antenna could enable seamless integration of antennas with everyday objects
Parker Solar Probe, TESS and GOLD missions will deliver exciting data, claims NASA
But deep learning pulls ahead for complex tasks
Geoengineering on the sea floor near glaciers would form a new ice shelf to prevent melting