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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) May 4, 2000


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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. OPEN PUBLISHING: Submit Your Article! 2. CONTEST: Subscribe & Win HotDog Professional 6.0! Or Buy It Cheap! 3. FEATURED ARTICLE: New Hurdles Point Out Solid Lessons 4. NET NEWS: * "I Love You" Virus Swamps E-mail Systems * ICQ Shuts Out Adults Posing as Children * AltaVista Unveils New Search Site * SoftQuad, Vignette Create Integrated XML Content Solution

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. OPEN PUBLISHING: Submit Your Article!

Every Thursday the Update features a new article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. We encourage you to submit your own article ideas. Your words could be here, being read by over 90,000 people!


This week, we take a look at the new challenges being presented to Web developers by COPPA and the WAI, and discover that the solutions are familiar - privacy, respect and accessibility.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. CONTEST: Subscribe & Win HotDog Professional 6.0!, Or Buy It Cheap!

Come one, come all, and see the amazing new WebRef Subscribe & Win contest! Sign up for the Webreference Update newsletter, and you could win a registered copy of the new HotDog Professional 6.0 Web authoring tool from Sausage Software. Each week we'll draw new winners from our new subscribers - you could be next. Already a subscriber? Not a problem - just fill out the form, and you'll be automatically entered to win.

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************************************************************adv.** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. FEATURED ARTICLE: New Hurdles Point Out Solid Lessons

Two new legal hurdles have surfaced on the Web recently, and it's Web developers and Web masters that will have to overcome them These hurdles, COPPA (the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) and the WAI (the Web Accessibility Initiative), have laid out an additional set of usability requirements for Web sites. Rather than being burdensome, however, the Web development community should view these additional usability requirements as being an opportunity and impetus - both to make their sites more accessible to everyone, disabled or not, as well as more privacy sensitive.

>What is COPPA?

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), went into effect on April 21st in the United States. This act intends to protect children on the Internet, from both individuals that may be using their personal information in inappropriate ways (cyberstalking, etc.), as well as from predatory advertising and business tactics.

In a nutshell, COPPA provisions require that a Web site obtain permission from parents before collecting any personal data from their children who are younger than 13. Additionally, Web sites must provide parents with a means of controlling that information in the future; i.e., provide them with a way to revoke their permission and remove the child's information from the Web site owner at any time. There are some exceptions to these regulations (a parent's permission is not required if the site is collecting a child's email address for a one-time response to a request for information), but that's the gist of it.

The Federal Trade Commission has launched a Web site (http://www.ftc.gov/kidsprivacy) which provides kids, parents and Web professionals with information on what the new law means to them, and how to respond to it.

>What is the WAI?

Recently, several legal events have brought issues of Web accessibility to the forefront of the attention of various standards bodies.

First of all, the U.S. Government has moved to start implementing a 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act, called section 508. Section 508 requires that any technology the federal government buys or uses must be accessible to people with disabilities. The section also states that Web sites erected by U.S. government departments and agencies must be accessible to people with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities. (http://www.itpolicy.gsa.gov/cita/508.htm)

Second of all, recent legal cases have suggested that the Americans with Disabilities Act may apply to issues of Internet and Web accessibility. Last November, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) sued AOL under the ADA for refusing to adapt its frontend to run on specialized systems that convert electronic information into Braille or voice-based systems. (http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-1429691.html)

In response to these and many other related issues, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been working with industry and governments to come up with a set of recommendations to make the Web more accessible to all users. This initiative is called the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), and a Proposed Recommendation of User Agent Accessibility Guidelines was released on March 10th of this year. (http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG/)

In addition, in February, the W3C put its final stamp of approval on the Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (ATAG), proposed in November, 1999. These guidelines seek to guide creators of HTML editors and other Web authoring tools towards adding automatic accessibility compatibility into the code that their products produce.


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>What Does it Mean to me?

Does the average developer even need to worry about this? Well, maybe. The ways that COPPA might be interpreted by the courts is still somewhat fuzzy (at least to a non-lawyer like myself). If your site is explicitly targeted at children, or if you know that children are using your site, you need to be compliant with COPPA. If you fail to do so, you leave yourself open to possible legal action, and a $10,000 fine. If your site does not knowingly collect information from children, you're probably fine. Of course, popular services like Yahoo and ICQ have yanked part or all access for anyone they suspect is under the age of 13, just to be on the safe side. If they're addressing it this aggressively, you know they're concerned about their liability.

Making your site COPPA compliant is fairly straightforward, though may be logistically difficult. First off, you need to have a clear privacy policy listed on your site. The FTC states that "the policy must be available through a link on the site's homepage and at each area where personal information is collected from kids. Websites for general audiences that have a children's section must post the notice on the homepages of the section for kids." (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/kidzprivacy/adults.htm)

You need to provide a means for the parent to give or decline consent, and to review any information that you may have collected about their child. You also need to realize that the parent has the right to remove consent at any time, and have all information about their child deleted from your records.

Making your site more accessible to the disabled is also fairly straightforward, and in line with general usability guidelines that people like Jakob Nielsen and others have been pushing for on the Web-at-large for years. Make sure your pages are navigable by any browser. Flash interfaces can be snazzy, and Java menus nifty, but either provide access to alternate, text-based interfaces, or allow your "eye candy" to degrade gracefully. Use ALT tags with all graphics, so people with audio-based (or purely text-based) browsers can get something out of your site. Similarly, consider providing text transcripts or summaries of multimedia or plugin- dependant content, such as streaming audio interviews. In general, try to avoid frames as layout and navigation devices.

Not only are these good ideas in general, given the general browser soup that we all still live and work in, but they'll also aid you in getting your site ready for the barrage of wireless Internet appliances (phones, tablets, PDAs and the like) that will be exploding in popularity over the next few years.

These are American laws being addressed, of course, and the Internet is an international space. This doesn't mean that similar laws or guidelines don't exist (or won't appear) elsewhere in the world. The W3C, for example, is an international standards body, and the lessons that lay behind their recommendations are global in scope. Privacy, respect and usability are good for all users, and should be goals for all Web developers - even if they aren't being threatened by a legal stick.

>Additional Resources

Bobby 3.1.1 - "A Web-based Accessibility Analyzer" http://www.cast.org/bobby/

"Is Your Site ADA-Compliant, or a Lawsuit-in-Waiting?" http://www.internetlawyer.com/ada.htm

WAI Quick Tips Reference Card http://www.w3.org/WAI/References/QuickTips/

Getting Started: Making a Web Site Accessible http://www.w3.org/WAI/gettingstarted


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By Eric Cook, Assistant Editor, WebReference.com Comments? Contact me at: ecook@internet.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 4. NET NEWS: "I Love You" Virus Swamps E-mail Systems, ICQ Shuts Out Adults Posing as Children, Alta Vista Unveils New Search Site, SoftQuad, Vignette Create Integrated XML Content Solution

>"I Love You" Virus Swamps E-mail Systems

A computer virus spread by e-mail messages and IRC began tainting computer systems worldwide Thursday, striking before quickly spreading to the United States and Europe. The virus, appearing as a email message with the subject "I love you" or "love letter," is a VBScript trojan horse that includes a damage component that overwrites certain media files on a hard drive or network. It originally included a component which sent network passwords cached by Windows to an attacker's site when an infected user connects to the Internet. http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article/0,2171,3_355211,00.html InternetNews.com, 000504

>ICQ Shuts Out Adults Posing as Children

In response to a tough new online child privacy law that went into effect two weeks ago, ICQ is forcing members under the age of 13 to forfeit their accounts. That's not just tough luck for real kids; the policy also is causing headaches for some adults who, for whatever reason, registered with fake birth dates. http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-1810683.html News.com, 000504

>AltaVista Unveils New Search Site

AltaVista made a move it hopes will raise its profile in the crowded search engine market. The company unveiled a new site, Raging Search, that features a number of technological advancements. Raging Search, located at www.raging.com, is designed to be a search site for experienced Internet users that provides faster results. The service is intended to compliment, rather than supercede, the standard Alta Vista search engine. http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article/0,2171,3_354801,00.html InternetNews.com, 000504

>SoftQuad, Vignette Create Integrated XML Content Solution

Softquad Ltd. and Vignette Corp. this week announced that they have partnered to create a platform for implementing and deploying XML- based content solutions for e-businesses. The two companies believe that the partnership will lead to the "seamless deployment of Web-based solutions that capture content from a wide variety of sources, and integrate it with both internal and external systems." http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,2171,10_354891,00.html InternetNews.com, 000504

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com ecook@internet.com

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