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

COPPA Changes Could Affect Mobile Game Development

The Federal Trade Commission has made changes to the COPPA laws in regards to the definition of a “children’s app.” Changes to the online privacy rules will go into effect July 1, with an emphasis on data collection practices, which could mean that requesting information or images from mobile devices could be viewed as a violation. Several developers are scaling back on game production in order to avoid being penalized by the FTC. Continue reading COPPA Changes Could Affect Mobile Game Development

Online Privacy Protection Act Applies to Mobile App for First Time

  • The Federal Trade Commission ruled Monday that W3 Innovations, the company behind popular mobile applications for kids, including “Emily’s Girl World” and “Emily’s Dress Up,” should pay a $50,000 penalty for collecting personal information from kids without parental permission.
  • The commission found the company in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, marking the first time that law has been applied to a mobile application.
  • “The F.T.C.’s COPPA Rule requires parental notice and consent before collecting children’s personal information online, whether through a Web site or a mobile app,” explained Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the commission. “Companies must give parents the opportunity to make smart choices when it comes to their children’s sharing of information on smart phones.”
  • The decision coincides with a period of increased concern about privacy and mobile technology, as the industry considers new privacy protections to fend off potential federal regulation.

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