Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Stealing children

The BBC is talking about how sites and apps aimed at children are creepily harvesting data about them.Image result for child catcher

The UK's data protection agency took part in an international investigation looking at almost 1,500 websites popular with young people.

It found that one in five asked for phone numbers or pictures.

Needless to say, many of them share this data with Random Others.

I’m an advocate of children having things like email addresses and mobile phones and of their being allowed to break things to see how they work.  The day my niece can break my network security will be an especially good one.  The day she breaks it a second time, after I’ve fixed the problem, will be even better.  Some of the kids I’ve spoken to about this routinely circumvent their schools’ firewalls by various means and I strongly encourage them to do so.

But we all make horrendously bad decisions in order to learn and services aimed at children shouldn’t actively solicit mistaken behaviour, they should set an example.   The big data fetish shouldn’t override treating people like people and sure as shit shouldn’t cause companies to exploit children.

We have sandboxes to encourage children to push their boundaries in relative safety.  Sites and apps aimed at children should have this as a core design principle.  What is wrong with people?

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