Internet privacy and child safety campaigners have called for dramatically improved parental controls in cyberspace after Google revealed it is developing products aimed at the under-13s.

The California-based search giant is the first of the big internet companies openly to tailor its services to children aged 12 and under – an age group hitherto considered off-limits for marketing purposes and data collection.

Google declined yesterday to say which of its panoply of products – ranging from its basic and highly lucrative search facility to YouTube and its Google Plus social media service to the Chrome browser – are to be made child-friendly.

But a government adviser told The Independent last night that Google would have to satisfy the public that it was not seeking to deepen the commercialisation of childhood by using its vast size to hoover up information about the behaviour of minors online.

A senior executive with the firm, whose corporate motto is famously “Don’t be evil”, insisted any services would be “fun and safe” with parental supervision at their heart.

Pavni Diwanji, the Google vice president in charge of the project, said: “We expect this to be controversial, but the simple truth is kids already have the technology in schools and at home. So the better approach is simply to see to it that the tech is used in a better way.”

Internet experts said Google was potentially tackling one of the growing contradictions of cyberspace whereby children under 13 are officially barred from using services such as Facebook or Instagram but nonetheless use them in large numbers… see more

source: independent UK