Attack of the Preteens: Google Might Offer User Accounts to Children Under 13

As if preteens weren't already online...

Pumped for her own YouTube account. (Photo: LiveFreeBlog)

Pumped for user accounts. (Photo: LiveFreeBlog)

Google is about to be as annoying as a Limited Too on a Saturday afternoon. The company is reportedly mulling offering accounts to kids under 13 years old, a move that needs to be intricately done so it doesn’t violate U.S. laws.

Since the current way of signing up for a YouTube or Gmail account is easy for a kid to do (i.e. they can just lie about their age), Google is creating a new log-in system that lets parents create the accounts for the kids. Under the proposal, parents can limit what they can access and let them know what information is being collected on them.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Google has to be careful of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a.k.a. COPPA. That’s a 1998 law that places strict limits on what information companies are collecting on kids under 13. It also requires parents’ consent before a minor can sign up for a website, however companies aren’t held liable if they lie about their age.

Privacy advocates, who seem to be under the impression that kids already don’t lie about their age, are lashing out at Google. “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 an online privacy group to the Journal.

It’s unclear if or when the new log-in system will be rolled out so tell your little cousins to s e t t l e.

Attack of the Preteens: Google Might Offer User Accounts to Children Under 13