Google to Allow Accounts for Kids Under 13

Google is planning to offer accounts to kids under 13 for the very first time, according to reports.

Most Internet accounts, such as Gmail, YouTube or Facebook, are not offered to those under 13 because of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, according to the Wall Street Journal. COPPA limits, among other things, how information on those under 13 is collected and requires parental consent.

Despite COPPA, children are often found faking birth dates to register with YouTube or Facebook. Facebook has already filed for a patent for under 13s, and according to reports more than half of all 12-year-olds have a Facebook account.

However, Google is beating Facebook to the punch and creating a new policy that will allow parents to set up accounts for their kids including parental controls, an unnamed source told the WSJ. Google is apparently also working on a "child version" of YouTube, too.

“Unless Google does this right it will threaten the privacy of millions of children and deny parents the ability to make meaningful decisions about who can collect information on their kids,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, an online privacy group. Chester and his group are working with their legal team to monitor Google's roll-out.
For both Google and Facebook, having younger user means hopefully longer and more loyal users, so this move would be a positive for both of the companies. Now, for the children -- that's still up for debate.
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