Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

The FTC and New York attorney general announced yesterday that Google is being fined $170 million following the investigation of YouTube’s alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The investigation claims that Google marketed the video platform to advertisers based on the popularity of channels with younger audiences, and tracked viewing histories of children to serve them ads, without first getting consent of the parents. Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York in the largest COPPA fine to date (Congress enacted the law in 1998). Continue reading Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

Google Filters Appropriate Content With YouTube Kids Site

Kid-friendly video content is now available on a dedicated YouTube Kids website that filters content deemed most appropriate based on three different age groups. The site offers a similar experience to the mobile app of the same name. Parents can select age-appropriate videos based on newly listed age groups, track viewing history and flag anything that may be missed by filters. A sign-in option is expected to be added in the future. The filters include “Preschool” (up to age 4), “Younger” (ages 5 to 7) and “Older” (kids over 7). Content is organized by categories including Explore, Gaming, Music and Shows.  Continue reading Google Filters Appropriate Content With YouTube Kids Site

YouTube Finalizes Plans to End Targeted Ads For Children

YouTube has agreed to stop targeted ads that appear during videos that children are likely to watch, said sources. The Federal Trade Commission, which has been investigating whether YouTube violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), reached an agreement with the company but hasn’t made its terms public yet. It isn’t clear whether YouTube’s move to end targeted ads in children’s videos is in response to the settlement. The move is expected to impact ad sales, and sources said YouTube’s plans could change. Continue reading YouTube Finalizes Plans to End Targeted Ads For Children

Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Amazon debuted a new version of its Echo Dot Kids Edition and several notable changes to its FreeTime Unlimited subscription service for children’s content. The new Echo Dot for children offers a new fabric case, including two colors — blue and rainbow stripes — both not available for the adult version. It is 70 percent louder than the first version, as is the new Echo Dot. The new Kids Edition will begin shipping June 26 for $69.99, $10 less than the first Kids Edition and will include access to FreeTime Unlimited for one year. Continue reading Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Coalition Alleges Amazon Illegally Collects Children’s Data

A coalition of 19 consumer and privacy groups plans to file a complaint against Amazon alleging that the e-commerce company’s Echo Dot Kids Edition illegally collects voice recordings and other information from users under age 13, which is a violation of the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA. The Echo Dot Kids Edition is much like the Echo Dot smart speaker device, but targeted to kids using a design featuring bright colors. Via the device, kids can ask questions, play music, and more using voice commands.

Continue reading Coalition Alleges Amazon Illegally Collects Children’s Data

TikTok to Pay Record Fine After Violating Children’s Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission just inked a settlement with video social network TikTok (which merged with Musical.ly last year) over the charge that its app illegally collected children’s personal information. A large percent of users are under 13, and the personal information collected — without asking for parental permission — included email addresses, names and schools. The site refused to delete video and other data when requested by some parents. The FTC said the $5.7 million settlement is a record for a child privacy violation. Continue reading TikTok to Pay Record Fine After Violating Children’s Privacy

Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

An investigation reveals that Facebook has been secretly paying users ages 13 to 35 since 2016 to install an iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app that gives the company access to all of their smartphone and Internet activity. The Research app is similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and may also be a violation of Apple policy. Legislators on both sides of the aisle were infuriated at the news, decrying the surveillance technology. Facebook’s earlier Onavo app was also criticized as spyware.

Continue reading Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

Twenty-two children’s and consumer groups asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s marketing of children’s apps in its Play store. Google has stated that its “Family” section of the Play store is where parents can find age-appropriate apps, but the groups state that some apps may violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents children’s apps/sites from collecting phone numbers, locations, photographs, and other data from children under 13 without verifiable parental consent. Continue reading Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

SuperAwesome Rolls Out Kid-Safe Embeddable Video Player

Kid-safe technology startup SuperAwesome is introducing an alternative to YouTube’s embedded video player intended for publishers of children’s content. The new offering — which joins the SuperAwesome platform of “kidtech” tools created for areas such as advertising, authentication, parental controls and social engagement — provides brands with a viable video player alternative as privacy issues dominate the spotlight. According to the company, the player does not collect data on kids and adheres to COPPA and GDPR. Continue reading SuperAwesome Rolls Out Kid-Safe Embeddable Video Player

CTA’s Shapiro Speaks With FTC’s Ohlhausen, Ajit Pai Absent

The FCC chair traditionally appears on the first day of CES to discuss the issues relevant to the CTA crowd. For the first time in memory, this year was different, as FCC’s Ajit Pai canceled his appearance due reportedly to death threats. Security was still tight, with bag searches and metal detectors, and police and dogs at the ready. Once the conversation started, however, it became obvious that the security was overkill; FTC acting chair Maureen Ohlhausen covered controversial topics, but didn’t add fuel to the fire. Continue reading CTA’s Shapiro Speaks With FTC’s Ohlhausen, Ajit Pai Absent

Experts Voice Concern About Facebook’s Social App for Kids

Facebook has introduced Messenger Kids, a new messaging app for children aged 6 to 12, in response to safety concerns from parents about Messenger. Some experts, however, are dubious that children that young should have any social media access at all. Messenger Kids is a standalone chat and messaging app that lets children send texts, messages and videos to contacts that have been approved by parents, who download the app on a child’s tablet or smartphone and control it from their own Facebook accounts. Continue reading Experts Voice Concern About Facebook’s Social App for Kids

ToyTalk and Mattel Release Interactive Thomas the Tank App

San Francisco-based kids’ entertainment startup ToyTalk, founded by former Pixar execs, just debuted its first product, an eight-episode app that lets children chat with Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends as they go on different adventures. The app is the result of ToyTalk’s new partnership with Mattel, which owns the Thomas the Tank Engine franchise. The interactive app, which takes advantage of kids’ familiarity in speaking with virtual entities, debuts just as Thomas the Tank Engine celebrates its 70th anniversary. Continue reading ToyTalk and Mattel Release Interactive Thomas the Tank App

Google Plans Initiative to Build Products for Ages 12 and Under

Google has confirmed that it plans to develop kid-friendly versions of some of its more popular products next year. While Google has yet to release specific details about the initiative, many predict that Chrome and YouTube will be among those products redesigned for children 12 and younger. Google understands that kids are among those most active on the Internet, so it hopes to create Web-related products and services that are deemed appropriate for their use. Continue reading Google Plans Initiative to Build Products for Ages 12 and Under

Yelp and TinyCo Face Fines After Violating Children’s Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday that game maker TinyCo agreed to pay $300,000 to settle charges that it violated children’s privacy rules by improperly collecting information. The company was accused of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). In a separate case, Yelp agreed to pay a $450,000 penalty for doing the same through its consumer review app. Both companies were charged with collecting personal info from children under 13 without parental consent. Continue reading Yelp and TinyCo Face Fines After Violating Children’s Privacy

Google Planning to Offer Accounts to a Younger Demographic

In what could potentially become a controversial move, Google has plans to offer accounts to children under the age of 13 for the first time. Google services such as Gmail and YouTube do not currently offer accounts to kids (although kids can log on anonymously or pose as adults). Now Google is planning a new approach that encourages parents to open accounts for their children, and in the process control how they use Google services and the information that is collected about their kids. Continue reading Google Planning to Offer Accounts to a Younger Demographic

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