Silicon Valley is Pushing Back On Children’s Privacy. Should They? Here is a Brief Case Study

I just read a piece from the New York Times,  A Trail of Clicks, Culminating in Conflict, and I must say I agree with advanced privacy protection for children.  I created a start-up a few years ago, mobile application, that allowed the sharing of image posts, and the woman at RIMM was on the cusp of rejecting the app, or wanted me to change the rating of the application.  I have to say that, at the time, I was on a shoe string budget, and time was money.  Annoyed, and a bit frustrated, I attempted to express that the program was designed to enable antique dealers to get on line appraisals, for example, on the go..  So if you liked garage sales, or flea markets, but didn’t know the estimated value, using the mobile application, you could look up a registered expert in that area of antiques, and send them a request for an instant appraisal.  If the appraiser had the app they would get a notification and/or a text message notifying them a request for an appraisal was sent to them, then could offer their services for a price, then respond with comments, and it could all be paid through mobile payments.  Sounds innocent enough; however, the RIMM representative insisted it could be used for pornographic use.  I slept on it that night, and as a father of two girls, it appeared to me she was absolutely right, the best of intentions, and all, so we changed the rating of the application in their store and published the application.  This is just an example, and may appear to be an apples and oranges comparison; however, it’s more alike than one thinks.  Alluring children on television during a programming session of their favorite T.V. show is targeting a demographic and is allowed, and although has a precedence, the demographic targeting of advertisements, for example, has never been able to be as fine tuned as it can be today, and the ramifications to a child relative to a conditioned adult has consequences to shape a child’s mind, or theoretically using a form of AI rules engine to fine tune their preferences seems benign enough.  However, the child may be influenced by trends that are imposed upon them, rather than the contrary.  I am not studying the affects that an AI rules engine with induction predictive capabilities may have on a child as a child psychologist, with a background in technology, but I think several studies are warranted, and I hear a few thesis papers inking pen to paper now.  These studies should be jointly done by the FCC and the CDC.  It sounds drastic, although, the consequences of a physiological epidemic are just as troubling.  I have news for you, most of these start-ups are by kids themselves, relatively, without their own children, and do not consider the ramifications, just the dollar signs.  We should ask, although I can do it, should I?

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