Let me play the Devil's advocate on this one.
Let say I have a site, I am not selling anything, BUT I do generate revenue via advertisement campaigns, such as Google ads, or standard banner placements throughout the site. So, in a sense you can no longer say that I am non-for-profit.
Now, some youngin? comes-a-browsing to my fictitious site, and decides to register and partake in forum discussion. He/she come across some, let?s just say, inappropriate content for a person under 13, and shares this new found ?knowledge? with others. Lets say they don?t really understand what they have read, and decide to ask someone older (i.e. a parent), the meaning of the content. The parent asks where they heard this information from, and the good offspring tells the parent where they found the information. The parent investigates and finds that this website has not clearly defined rules against minors viewing this site, or does not have measures in place to prevent their child from viewing this content. The said content does not break any of the rules defined by the webmaster, but is indeed not appropriate for children.
It?s just as important to secure a website from minors as it is from hackers. Yeah the COPPA ?are you over or under the age of 13? check box seems kind of meaningless, but if the kid presses no I am not, then he is not allowed to sign up with the site, and furthermore, can view the content within. If he/she chooses to check the box that they are over 13 years of age, and they are not, then, your ass is covered (in a sense). The COPPA rules act as a deterrent. Not a 100% foolproof device.
So, I can understand where people would want this to be added. And it?s as easy as it seems to implement. For instance, you would have to make it required to register to even see forum posts. This is not a big deal, because this setting is already there. But, once you add COPPA into the mix, you can?t make this an option anymore. It has to be closed to everyone but registered users.
Someone made the great old blanket statement that ?if a parent were doing there job?. I am sorry, coming from a parent, that?s a bogus excuse not to implement these measures. I do my job as a parent of 3 wonderful kids quite well. But, I am not god, I can?t watch what they are doing 24/7. With a dual income family, sometimes your kids have to be watched by a sitter, a relative, a close friend. Yes, you can tell them they are not allowed to be on-line when you are not home. Yes, you can have ?Net Nanny? preventions in place. Come on I was a kid once, and I looked for ways to defy my parents, or be sneaky. It?s not the parents ?job? to tell their kids what the can and can not do. It?s a parents job to explain why things are bad in the world, and why they should get involved with such acts.
Here is an example of what is wrong with the web. This actually happened to me while I was supervising. My oldest daughter at the time was 8 years old, and wanted to look up Barbie dolls on the web. So she typed Barbie dolls into the search box, and found a lot that had to do with Barbie dolls made by Mattel. She also found, when I was not quick enough to read what she was about to click on, a site that was meant, let?s just say, for gentlemen. (I.e. adult content) I can laugh now, but I can tell you I was a ticked off. Now I had to explain to her why there would be such things in the world.
Bottom line, its easy to say that things like COPPA are rubbish when you don?t have kids. As soon as you have kids of the age to go online, you be wishing that they would make an internet that only kids could access and one for adults. Kind of like a new age right of passage. (As soon as you are a certain age, you can get on the adult internet)
Ok, I ranted long enough. It was hard to get this out between the phone ringing, and playing with my kids.