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Education Government Privacy The Internet Your Rights Online Technology

A Trail of Clicks, Culminating In Conflict 65

NotSanguine writes "Technology companies are up in arms about the FTC's pending rules change which would require explicit parental permission to allow websites to gather a wide range of data on children 13 and under. From the NYT Article: '"If adopted, the effect of these new rules would be to slow the deployment of applications that provide tremendous benefits to children, and to slow the economic growth and job creation generated by the app economy," Catherine A. Novelli, vice president of worldwide government affairs at Apple, wrote in comments to the agency (PDF).' But would that be a bad thing? As reported in the Times last week, Matt Richtel writes, 'There is a widespread belief among teachers that students' constant use of digital technology is hampering their attention spans and ability to persevere in the face of challenging tasks, according to two surveys of teachers being released on Thursday.' So, will the new FTC rules end up helping children (by enhancing their privacy and, if industry pundits are right, reducing the amount of content available online for children — thus enhancing their attention spans), or will the negative effects on corporations have as deleterious an effect on the economy as to measurably reduce the quality of education?"
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A Trail of Clicks, Culminating In Conflict

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  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @06:57PM (#41900915) Homepage Journal

    Now I KNOW the objection is spurious.

  • by Jailbrekr ( 73837 ) <> on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @07:00PM (#41900945) Homepage

    Damn rights you need my explicit permission to gather data on my children, and if you object to this, then you are not only the problem you are a parasite who is in need of extermination.

    Stay away from my children you greedy soul-less fucks.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @07:06PM (#41901011)

      Why stop at the children? I think EVERYBODY ought to have this right. At least if it's enforced for children we can all sign up as 8-year-olds, and experience a little privacy on the net for a change.

    • Stay away from my children you greedy soul-less fucks.

      Your child needs to stop clicking the "yes I am over 13" button on my game's web forums... You know, because unless we do some SERIOUS fucking data gathering by some "trusted" 3rd party, I won't be able to tell if your kid is lying or not.

      If you ever actually hear what your kids say when you're not around, then you'd be calling them the soul-less fucks.

      • by ti-85 ( 2706779 )
        Generally speaking — Puppies, like small children, the elderly, and really most people:

        Rotten until proven otherwise.
      • Interesting metric you have for allowing non consensual acquisition of data, where the bad behavior of the "victim" has any relevance. I catch you cheating on your wife, I am entitled to snap a pic and blackmail you, for that same metric.

    • by jythie ( 914043 )
      But... but... they might make less money then, which slows their development! How dare you protect your children from their 'useful apps'! They have their own children to feed! Or at least boats to buy.....
    • Fine. Just don't start bitching when your children are excluded from the internet.

      Seriously, you expect every website to add the infrastructure for handling and verifying written permission before they record your child's IP address? Yeah right. They'll add a little tickbox to their signup page, requiring the user to confirm they're over the age of 13 before they can use the service. And if your children lie and do it anyway, hell, the way the US is going, that'll probably be a federal hacking offence and t

  • by willoughby ( 1367773 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @07:07PM (#41901017)

    If we can raise children who are better, more agile thinkers & at the same time put a dent in the corporate America machine I say, "Go for it".

    • I agree! But, shouldn't smart phones etc. be banned in the classroom anyway?
    • If we can raise children who are better, more agile thinkers & at the same time put a dent in the corporate America machine I say, "Go for it".

      I would like to point out that raising children who are better, more agile thinkers, is directly in opposition to your goal. For example, they will simply enter a birthdate that is of "legal recording age" in order to both access and be tracked by corporate America. Meanwhile, folks like me who have a web forum where anyone can join and post anything have to jump through a few extra hoops for no real benefit.

      Ultimately, if you wish to censor the children, the answer is to actually be a parent and watch

  • In other words (Score:1, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 )

    There is a widespread belief among teachers that students' constant use of digital technology is hampering their attention spans

    Teachers have this lawn, see? And they would very much like you to get off of it.

    Stop trying to ban things and learn to work with what kids have natural interests in.

    • Stop trying to ban things and learn to work with what kids have natural interests in.

      It has nothing to do with the message ("what kids have a natural interest in"), but with the medium.

      In Too Big To Know [] the point is made that the online medium is creating a generation that has a shorter attention span and cannot deal with more traditional means of education (like reading paper books.) It's the natural result of working in an instant gratification environment.

      It's not a case of banning anything, it's a case of teachers who have thirty little people in their care trying to be able to tea

      • I am not wholly convinced computers create shorter attention spans.

        Consider how locked on to modern mobile computing devices kids are. They sure do not SEEM like people with short attention spans when they are using a tablet. They just find other things less interesting than what they are focused on.

        That is why it's important to figure out how to take advantage of this natural interest in educating kids. We have already found a way to extend attention spans they enjoy; make use of that.

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          People confuse 'doing more' with 'short attention spans'.
          These kids maintain separate conversation, on the fly and access information nearly instantly. Kids by their nature are resourceful, and like to do things.

          These same yahoos that complain about kids would be perfectly fine if the kid sat under a tree all summer, doing nothing.

          • My kids are adults now but I seem to recall they could concentrate on video games for hours (if not days) at a time.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        It's not instant gratification, it's universal knowledge.
        Many traditional means are dead. Kids can do FAR more at the same time today then every before, and that will be their edge.

        "Thirty people with thirty second attention spans would be impossible to manage in any organized way
        yes, and it would be impossible to teach with the methods from 1850 as well. SO? how about adapting?
        Why not text questions? Why don't schools use these tools? we live in an era where anyone can learn anything. We live in an era wh

        • Let set up long term(multi-year) education goals for kids? if they are accomplished at 13, great, 18? great. IN either case they graduate. Teenagers are running corporation, so I'm not exactly worried about the generation. I'm worried that we want to stick to useless ways of teaching just for the sake of tradition. Lets not stuff traditional* ways down their throats because 'change is hard'.

          Personally, I'm less concerned about the 13-18 yo demographic and more concerned about the 5-11 yo one. As is the FTC, since the rules change applies only to children under 13.

          Many preteens/teenagers know when they're being marketed to and have the sophistication to deal with it appropriately. Younger children need to be monitored by their parents as they likely don't have the sophistication to understand what marketers are trying to accomplish.

          I certainly don't want advertisers to create and maintain dos

      • It isn't funny at all that I've been hearing the same argument, children's short attention spans, as the reason that education is the shit-pit it has ever been. And that truth covers the last fifty years. First it was TV, they they added music TV as the extended cause, then computers, now it's smart devices, and the list is rather endless. That doesn't even bring into the discussion theories about diet, parental involvement, etc., although I will give parental involvement a nod as something useful in dis

    • Stop trying to ban things and learn to work with what kids have natural interests in.

      My daughter keeps begging me to help her give her personal information to BlueKai, I'm going to take your advice and help her with that tonight!

  • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @07:10PM (#41901041)

    I wonder if these are the same teachers that insist kids need laptops, or even better ipads
    (and of course a generous number of those to be given to the teachers, their friends, etc)
    to that they can 'teach them'..

    I would agree technology is an issue, especially for younger children - the teachers in general
    are not exactly fighting against it in general. All our local schools now REQUIRE laptops
    for children who are quite honestly too young for them, and one is now REQUIRING ipads
    unless a child has 'special dispensation', what a load of BS.

    There are still some great teachers, they are just a rapidly dwindling minority, being replaced
    by the hoards who just want their job to be made easier and easier, while having more and more
    say in the social/moral/health/etc areas of the kids upbringings.

    I know its a rant, but a very true one - parents these days are pretty much assumed to not have
    their own kids best interests in mind, meanwhile the average abilities of kids leaving (especially
    younger levels of..) schools is dropping, what a surprise.

    IMHO being a responsible parent has gained a new requirement - fighting the BS educator and
    political attacks on parents and children, to keep at least a hint of freedom of thought for the next
    generation. Its a sad day.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      No, it isn't a true rant and flies against all the data, in general.

      And yes, requiring iPad is BS that means they are using some sort of single device took they shouldn't be using.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I work in education. Many teachers would rather that money go towards shrinking classroom sizes, rather than it be diverted towards a handful of computer vendors.

      At least laptops can teach kids how to use a mouse and a keyboard - superior interface devices, when it comes to producing things like code and papers. I feel that giving kids ipads/touch devices will ultimately benefit marketers and ipad/touch device vendors more than they will students.

      Either way, once these devices are in the hands of students,

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      What I wonder is if they propose to send parents to jail for abuse if they don't buy iPads for their kids, or consent to allow their kids to use turnitin, or whatever.

      What happens when the school says they won't accept papers that don't come through turnitin, and the parent sends turnitin a letter telling them that they explicitly do not consent to this and any report to the contrary is a forgery, and that a suit would be filed if they create an account for their child?

      It is already crazy how kids can't qua

  • Widespread belief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @07:10PM (#41901043) Journal

    Sure, there's a widespread belief, but is there data? Show me data that exposure to technology is negatively correlated with attention spans, then it might be worth doing something about it. Until then, it's just speculation.

    Many things that are widely believed are not true. It's widely believed that the streets are more dangerous today than when we were kids. But crime rates are at a 30 year low, and juvenile crime is at all time lows. Widespread belief is NEVER justification to do ANYTHING except collect data.

    • Exactly, why are the people educating our children not exercising some basic critical thinking. They grab up some convenient anecdotal evidence, then bandy it about as if it were fact. Two decades ago, the big problem with children was ADHD and we needed to medicate them all immediately. Perhaps some children had ADHD, but it was no where near as prevalent as educators inferred. I guess before that it was comic books or television that interfered with a teacher's ability to hold a student's attention.

      And I

    • You mean, like nowadays dates, when HE, and SHE, are sitting together, on the same table, drinking coffee, and....chatting, using their iPhones? or updating their Facebook status? You don't consider this as a data?
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        it is data. If you mean 'date' that's completely different topic. If you do mean date, who are you to tell others how to date?

    • Show me data that exposure to technology is negatively correlated with attention spans, then it might be worth doing something about it.

      I fully agree, and furthermore - woo xiaorishu has put something new on youtube gtg

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Obfuscant ( 592200 )
      How about here? [] It's a fascinating read.
      • by Hatta ( 162192 )

        Not really helpful.

        But the most distressing takeaway is: âoe87% say these technologies are creating an âeasily distracted generation with short attention spansâ(TM) and 64% say todayâ(TM)s digital technologies âdo more to distract students than to help them academically.â

        Looks like they're trying to dress up anecdotes as data. Attention spans can be measured. What is the average attention span of children who use digital technology N hours a week, and how does it differ from

    • You can probably find them if you have access to various journals. Those are not priamry source but report in general press. If you don't take the time to look it up yourself, I don#t see why I should. Example : []
      "The study, published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics, found watching a snippet of a SpongeBob cartoon negatively affected 4-year-oldsâ(TM) attention spans. Watchi
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @07:41PM (#41901305)

    It should be absolutely illegal to collect ***ANY*** information on anyone without direct, express opt-in. Period. Full stop. I don't care if this ruins ad revenue. There is no guranteed right to a profit, only the right to pursue it. I for one, would like to see more of a craigslist-style WWW with little to no corporate presence save having to physically choose to go to a website. Corporations want to have ads, they should pay dearly for the right to show them.

    I truly miss the simpler Internet of the late 90s. I don't get why everyone thinks they have to monetize everything. Really?

    In order to have a nice Internet experience, because I already pay to access the Internet:

    - I block all ads. Nothing escapes the several methods I use to maintain a clean Internet.
    - I disallow all cookies.
    - I disallow scripts except a couple of sites.
    - I refuse to pass on HTTP/S referer, even though this means sites cannot accurately tell who is using them and from where. Disabling referer also has the side effect of killing ad revenue click through, but using a site doesn't mean that I agree to accept the ads or the tracking. When sites stop the ads and tracking, I will stop the blocking. Tit for tat. Fair is fair. You want to track me? Pay for the right to do so. I'll license my computer out for $1000 per year per company that engages in that type of behavior.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @07:47PM (#41901373) Homepage Journal

    Since the additional programming to accommodate the requirements would add jobs, that must not be it.

    So it means that they don't want to provide content for children at all unless they are allowed to exploit them in ways they feel sure the parents won't approve of.

    That sounds a bit creepy, really.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @08:23PM (#41901769)

    Q: What should we always say when a politician attempts to pass a new law and says the magic words: "for the children"?
    A: "Hell NO!"
    This new wonderful panacea law designed to make children happy and healthy will have an effect of the rest of us. Now every website will by law be required to collect your date of birth. You will probably be forced to answer truthfully under penalty of perjury and go to jail. This information will be stored on the companies database that will be shared with all sorts of marketing agencies, and the occasional hackers.
    Children will, of course, be able answer whatever they want since they are too young to be charged.

    Is this really a system you want? It's what you're going to get.

  • ... interrupting my, um... I wonder what's new on Facebook?

  • by FredAndrews ( 2736433 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @09:28PM (#41902327)
    A significant motivation for starting the W3C Private User Agent community group was the experience of watching children using online apps with the understand of all the covert monitoring and tracking going on. I believe that a lot could be done to better secure the privacy of the web browser and to better support a more private platform for children, and others. Most of the apps for very young children really do not need to be connected to the web, the apps just need to be downloaded, and could then be run in a sandbox.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... If adopted, the effect of these new rules would be to slow the deployment of applications that provide tremendous benefits to children..."

    I don't care what some dumbass at apple says. My wife and I (and ONLY my wife and I) get to decide what benefits our children. That guy can go F himself if he thinks otherwise.

  • [this will] slow the economic growth and job creation generated by the app economy

    Yes, as usually said when any anything is proposed that could be annoying for people making profits. Did they heard about the story of Peter and the wolf []?

  • "... will the new FTC rules end up helping children (by enhancing their privacy and, if industry pundits are right, reducing the amount of content available online for children - thus enhancing their attention spans?"

    That question is absurd. There is far, far more than enough content currently available for children that slowing, or even stopping development, would do nothing to affect the attention span of children. (Even assuming a negative impact from all this "content" - which seems dubious to me an

  • I could definitely live without another push for COPPA.

    Children are already protected by not being able to legally enter into contracts before their 18th birthday.

  • Just take the technology out of the classroom! Go back to good old Blackboards and teach the kids like we did 15 years ago, where you learn how to handwrite, where you learn how to read from a textbook, where the teachers had to be more qualified then the student. 15 years ago I didn't need technology to survive the school day and I don't think kids need it now, what happened was a system got fixed that wasn't broken.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!