The use of mobile apps is increasing at a dramatic rate.You may be building an app that offers new ways to do business (like payment and purchase scanning) or you have a genius idea for a brand new service.
Knowing this, a number of Alexa skill developers have built apps with children in mind, ranging from voice-activated games to joke apps and even things that only kids would love, like a “fart” skill.On the Alexa Skill Store today, there are 1,607 skills in the “Novelty & Humor” category, for example, which is filled with apps for children, like bedtime stories, funny noises, jokes, gags, fun facts, and more.According to Amazon, the first time Echo users enable a “kid skill,” Alexa will prompt you to provide parental permission via the Alexa companion app.The verification process will require parents and guardians to either enter a one-time password sent via SMS to their phone, or perform verification by credit card.Out of the gate, two major kids’ brands are launching on Alexa using the new feature.
Viacom-owned Nickelodeon is debuting a Sponge Bob skill, while Sesame Street has a new Elmo skill.
Despite the proliferation of voice computing, the FTC didn’t update its COPPA guidance for businesses until June, 2017 to account for internet-connected devices and toys.
Its guidelines now state that online services include “voice-over internet protocol services,” and says that businesses have to get permission to store a child’s voice.
If a parent enables any of these highly visible and sure-to-be-popular kids’ voice skills, they’ll have effectively enabled consent for their kids to use Alexa as much as they want. An investigation last spring by The Guardian discovered that the way tech companies store voice recordings was in violation of U. The law’s guidelines are designed to protect children’s privacy online, and requires companies get explicit, verifiable consent from parents in order to store a child’s personal information if they’re under 13.
FTC, COPPA and Voice Computing The addition of parental consent tackles a huge problem today’s voice platforms have been facing, Virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa have been operating in a gray area of U. At the time, Amazon had told The Guardian that it complies with COPPA because it doesn’t target kids.
Asked if the existing skills today will add parental consent, Amazon told us that those launched to date are “for all audiences” and are not exclusive to kids.