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You must be 13 or older to use any of the forms available at this website.

If you are under the age of 13, you or a parent must send your parent's e-mail address to the U.S. Scouting Service Project's webmaster (webmaster@usscouts.org) before using any of the forms available at this website. We will verify your parent's consent before we respond to you.

If you are under the age of 13, you probably won't be hearing from us. As much as we'd like to reply, we have a pretty strict (paranoid!) policy against doing so. Here's why:

  • There is a U.S. law called the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (or COPPA for short) that lays down a bunch of rules that anyone who "operates a website" must follow. This law draws the youth/adult line at 13 years of age. The law explicitly forbids collecting personal information, and in general discourages communication between "website operators" and "children" over the internet. It does, however, allow one-time responses, like answering questions (as long as this doesn't involve "collecting personal information"). For more information on COPPA visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/coppa.htm. The text of the law is at http://www.ftc.gov/ogc/coppa1.htm.
  • Civil liability is another thing altogether. Civil lawsuits can be filed regardless of whether the COPPA law was violated or not. We are aware of several examples where innocent communication over the internet carried unforeseen and unwelcome consequences for the website operator:

Fortunately, there is a much better solution than asking us. It's called Scouts-L. Scouts-L is a discussion list where Scouters (youth and adults) ask each other Scouting questions. Anything you email to the list gets forwarded to about 2000 scouters. Not just anyone can send mail to this list--you have to join and be a member. Technically, this list isn't a "website", so it doesn't fall under the COPPA. Although Scouts-L is not affiliated with BSA, or GSUSA, it is operated by the USSSP, but independent of our websites.

To join Scouts-L, you need to send a message to the unmanned "list server" software which is on a computer separate from the computer that is used to operate this website. There is nobody physically at the list server reading or reviewing messages...it is all done electronically. In the body of your posting, you need to only provide one line of information: SUB SCOUTS-L firstname lastname That's all. You MUST use your REAL first and last name because the listserver's software is 'trained" not to take "screen names" or "userids". Send the message line to LISTSERV@SCOUTS-L.COM and you should receive back two messages. The first one confirms that you do want to become part of Scouts-L; the second one welcomes you to the "international Roundtable meeting which NEVER ends!"

If you are under 13, we encourage you to not engage in private e-mail exchanges with other members. You should only reply to the list where your conversation is very public. Please do not provide personal information about yourself such as your school, address or phone number when you participate in an online discussion.

If you choose not to become part of Scouts-L, then unfortunately, you must have a parents, guardian, or some other adult post your question to us for you. We are more than happy to answer all questions posed to us within a reasonable amount of time ... given the fact that we are all volunteers and we do have lives to lead outside of our work with the USSSP!




Scouts Using the Internet Cartoon - Courtesy of Richard Diesslin - Click to See More Cartoons
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