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Apple, Facebook, Google questioned by lawmakers in the name of kids' privacy

News by Dan Seifert on Monday May 23, 2011.

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Lawmakers in Washington questioned Apple, Google, Facebook, and other tech companies last week regarding privacy for data from children under the age of 13. The council was spurred on by the iPhone location data scandal that came to light last month.

Mobile phone use has exploded among young children under the age of 13 in recent years, with 20 percent of children under the age of 11 owning a phone, and 66 percent owning one by the time they are 14. Children under the age of 13 have special rights when it comes to data and privacy, and as a result of this, many companies will not allow them to have memberships or use the companies' services. Both Facebook and Apple require users to be at least 13 years old in order to have an account.

Despite these rules, kids have ways of beating the system and creating accounts even if they are not old enough to. The senators pointed out that there are 7.5 million accounts on Facebook for children under the age of 13. Facebook replied that it shuts down accounts when they are reported. Apple added that "if we learn that we have inadvertently received the personal information of a child under 13, we take immediate steps to delete that information."

The goal of the lawmakers is to create new legislation that clearly lays out the rules of online privacy protection. [via Reuters]

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Dan Seifert
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.

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