Children's Privacy in an Innovative World

Children's Privacy in an Innovative World Diana_Drubig

Proud parents plastering their children’s images all over Facebook and other social media sites isn’t the only privacy concern for children. Last month, in the Wall Street Journal, Julia Angwin explained the lengths she takes to keep her children’s information private, because “If I don’t do anything to help my children learn to protect themselves, all their data will be swept into giant databases, and their identity will be forever shaped by that information.” From getting them to use fake names online, to using search engines other than Google that don’t store data, to looking up homework assignments, Angwin not only avoids posting their photos, but she’s taught them the skills to erase and hide their digital footprints.

So how can Angwin’s actions be reconciled with innovation? According to Meena Harris in a post on Covington’s Inside Privacy blog, a recent panel at the South by Southwest conference explored whether innovation and children’s privacy can coexist. For one thing, parent buy-in is paramount when it comes to children’s app development, the panel explained.

One member, Lorraine Akemann, the cofounder of Moms with Apps, “stressed that it is critical for developers to strive towards evoking the same confidence that parents today associate with traditional content models, such as children’s literature or public television,” reports Harris. To do this, Akemann suggests app makers should be up front about privacy and communicate openly.

“The panel concluded that even with growing regulation, it’s not ultimately necessary to choose between innovation and privacy for kids’ apps, so long as developers prioritize creating trust and transparency,” says Harris. To do this, they should have clear and easy-to-read privacy policies and iconic disclosures, she says. I wonder if Angwin would approve?

Attorney Marlisse Silver Sweeney is a freelance writer based in Vancouver. MarlisseSilverSweeney@gmail.com. Twitter: @MarlisseSS. LTN: @lawtechnews.

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