Google is Planning to Target Kids with Child-Friendly Version of Gmail and YouTube

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By Cynthia Condez | August 20, 2014 3:43 PM EST

Reporters said that Google is planning on expanding its services to include kids.  The plan, while yet unconfirmed by Google, has already raised a red flag among privacy watchdogs, as it will let minors below 13 years old have their own Google accounts and access child-friendly versions of services like YouTube and Gmail.

Reuters
A Google logo is seen at the garage where the company was founded on Google's 15th anniversary in Menlo Park, California September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Jeff Chester, the executive director of Center for Digital Democracy, is among those who are vocal about the said plan. 

Wall Street Journal quotes Chester saying, "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."

According to USA Today, Chester's top concern about the move is that kids will become the targets for advertisers. This is the tech company's "latest way to boost profits", he said.

The organization has already approached the Federal Trade Commission about its concerns, the publication states.  The FTC is the body that governs the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which sets the limits and rules on how information about kids below 13 is collected. 

Jay Mayfield, the spokesman for FTC, told Wall Street Journal that the agency does not comment on plans of specific companies.   

The advocacy group is also reportedly making its own plans on how to monitor Google on the way the tech company will provide its services to kids, as well as making sure that the new service will give parents and guardians enough control in terms of the minor's privacy.

On the other hand, E-Commerce Times reports a view from the other side of the fence.  According to the report, Local Search Association vice-president of strategy Greg Sterling says that Google is merely recognising reality.

"Children under 13 do use Google services such as Google.com and YouTube. Large numbers of below 13 years old kids also have Gmail accounts already," he told the publication.  "This would just put a formal process or procedure around that usage."

Google's alleged plan includes a dashboard for parents so they will be able to monitor their kids' activities, as well as a kid-friendly version of YouTube.  

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(Photo: Reuters / )
A Google logo is seen at the garage where the company was founded on Google's 15th anniversary in Menlo Park, California September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
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