Technology

Google boosts privacy protections for children on search and YouTube

They are designed to give youngsters ‘more control over their digital footprint'.

Google has announced a raft of privacy changes for children who use its search engine and YouTube platform, designed to give minors “more control over their digital footprint”.

Among the measures, videos uploaded to YouTube by those under 18 will be set to private by default, meaning they can only be viewed by themselves and whomever they choose at first, though they can decide to adjust the settings if desired.

The video-sharing site will also switch its current settings to provide young users with break and bedtime reminders, as well as turning off autoplay features.

Meanwhile, Google is introducing new rules on Google Image search removals, enabling anyone under the age of 18 or their parent or guardian to request that their photo be taken down from results.

The tech giant said it will turn off location history, without the option to switch it back on, for child user accounts globally – a feature that was previously only limited to children with supervised accounts.

Elsewhere, Google plans to expand safeguards to prevent age-sensitive ad categories from being shown to teenagers, and will block ad targeting based on the age, gender, or interests of people under 18, which will be rolled out to all Google products globally “over the coming months”.

The move comes ahead of new rules coming into effect in the UK from September.

The Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) Age Appropriate Design Code compels tech firms to make digital services safe for children from the ground up.

Baroness Kidron, chair of children’s safety group the 5Rights Foundation, said: “These steps are only part of what is expected and is necessary, but they establish beyond doubt that it is possible to build the digital world that young people deserve, and that when government takes action, the tech sector can and will change.”

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