If you’re part of the non-existent group of kids who don’t lie about their age on the internet, there’s good news. Google is reportedly working on YouTube and Gmail accounts for kids younger than 13 according to the WSJ.
Legally, children are not allowed to sign up for a Gmail or YouTube account due to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This act limits information gathered from young kids for advertising. Right now, Google redirects you to a page saying it could not make an account if you put your age as under 13. But honestly, what kid would do that.
This new system is intended to be used along with parents. Parents set up the account and control how their kids use the services. This new system would be compliant with COPPA.
Technology tends to leap past regulations. But, the FTC has tried to bridge this gap. In 2012, the FTC updated COPPA and outlined how the internet (apps, websites etc.) should handle children’s personal information. Here’s the updated ‘amendments.’
Modify the list of “personal information” that cannot be collected without parental notice and consent, clarifying that this category includes geolocation information, photographs, and videos;
Offer companies a streamlined, voluntary and transparent approval process for new ways of getting parental consent;
Close a loophole that allowed kid-directed apps and websites to permit third parties to collect personal information from children through plug-ins without parental notice and consent;
Extend coverage in some of those cases so that the third parties doing the additional collection also have to comply with COPPA;
Extend the COPPA Rule to cover persistent identifiers that can recognize users over time and across different websites or online services, such as IP addresses and mobile device IDs;
Strengthen data security protections by requiring that covered website operators and online service providers take reasonable steps to release children’s personal information only to companies that are capable of keeping it secure and confidential;
Require that covered website operators adopt reasonable procedures for data retention and deletion; and
Strengthen the FTC’s oversight of self-regulatory safe harbor programs.
Focusing on kids would allow Google to dive into the education industry.