Do tech giants hate child privacy?


A recent bill to protect child privacy has met with a barrage of frantic disapproving nods from Google, Twitter and Facebook. You’d think that child privacy would be an important issue for the tech giants, but evidently anything that hampers their ability to rule the masses is a big no-no. The FTA plans to give the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) a makeover is not being taken well. Objections to proposed changes have already been filed so that the companies don’t have to give up their ability to track their users.  We’ve taken a step backwards from dealing with issues such as cell phone spyware and PC monitoring software to literally having to worry about tech giants fundamentally choosing their own wealth over privacy.

Big brothers don’t want monitoring

Google, Facebook and the general tech firm these days actively invade user’s privacy, mostly without their consent. The proposed changes to the bill will ensure that a lot of firms become answerable for their actions with the FTC’s watchful gaze keeping them from doing anything but toeing the line. Reddit, Google+, Twitter, Digg, and Facebook will also have trouble on their hands because every single one of those sites use plug-ins that, while helping them provide easier access to their sites, aid them in tracking their users. Once a user is tracked that information is then used to throw a plethora of advertisements their way. Sites would then have to make sure that they’re not throwing the wrong adverts the wrong way i.e. a child visiting a site he/she shouldn’t could end up being targeted for harmful adverts.

Cage that free bird

Twitter is claiming that this move will in effect ensure that sites can’t collaborate and link together ergo ensuring that there’s a “diminishing of freedom of expression”. The real trouble of course is that it’ll result in severe consequences for the tech giants who will have to go over their entire process to try and eliminate children from the advert game, and as a result lose a large margin of their audience itself from the advert pool. Facebook and Google are spouting similar complaints outlining First Amendment issues and children’s educational rights.

The real deal

Tech giants on a regular basis benefit from the information they extract from child users, online services and websites. Many privacy pundits are of the view that expecting a parent to be in complete control of their child’s online use is ridiculous at best. And measures need to be taken by sites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to ensure that  child privacy is kept safe. Under the proposed changes companies should require a parent’s consent before children 12 and under are targeted for adverts. Furthermore, sites need to outline their status i.e. that they’re child-oriented, and elucidate what information they’re lifting while tracking a user.

Added problems

There’s no dearth of underage users, whose accounts are illegal, present online. Both Twitter and Facebook are not meant to have users who are younger than 13; however, research statistics from the Consumer Reports confirm that Facebook alone has over 7 million underage users with fake accounts that state that they are above 13. The situation is no different for Twitter or any other social network for that matter. Privacy advocates are also laughing at the claim that firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter don’t have the requires resources to discount children from their web of adverts.

Natalia David deals in all things tech. Her work revolves around cell phone security and PC security. She writers for Mobistealth and tweets @NataliaDavid4