back to article AVG: We need laws to stop biz from tracking our kids

The antivirus giant AVG will today call for legislative action to prevent data-grabbers from spying on children. Yuval Ben-Itzhak, the antivirus firm's chief technical officer, will speak at the Child Internet Safety Summit to call for limits on data-gathering on children's devices. AVG is well known for its antivirus …

  1. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Two juggernauts colliding ...

    It's a little like Alien vs. Predator ....

    "The war on terror" hits "Think of the children"

    Popcorn ...

    1. DNTP

      Re: Two juggernauts colliding ...

      You forget the rest of that tagline at your peril:

      "Whoever wins, we lose"

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Two juggernauts colliding ...

        Seems like someone is trying to literally scare up a new market.

        Slimy megacorps tracking your kid? Non-problem? You bet.

  2. Reading Your E-mail

    How to tell?

    I could be a 70 year old, a 40 year old or a 10 year old. How you gonna tell on the internet?

    Let me guess AVG has something to flog that will "help"?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: How to tell?

      If they are under 18 they can't be on the internet because they wouldn't have been able to sign a contract with an ISP.

      So you can assume anybody you meet online is an adult, or possibly using the internet under parental or teacher supervision.

      1. I am not spartacus


        "If they are under 18 they can't be on the internet because they wouldn't have been able to sign a contract with an ISP.

        I believe that you are thinking of the wrong problem. With the coming of the 'Internet of things, wearables dept' this problem will only get worse, but it is already here.

        Assuming that the person in question has a phone, they are trackable. Now there are certain limitations, and some smartphone features make this easier, but the bottom line is that having a phone is enough to do some tracking, in some circumstances. Now, various things like smart watches could well make the problem more severe, but the problem is - potentially - here, and it isn't clear what is going to make it go away.

        So, what could possibly go wrong? Well, I think the first thing that comes to mind to most parents is some very undesirable character following their kids around, and while that is one aspect, it isn't the only one.

        Right now, all the bits probably exist for Supermarket B to know whether you have been to Supermarket A and to give you offers (or not) on that basis. That's a bit creepy, but probably isn't going to worry anyone too much. What about something that identifies you as having been at the scene of the crime, in the way that the street cameras can? Well, you might not have too much objection, if there was regulation that ensured that the data could only be used properly, in the way that you might have similar feelings with street spy cameras.

        And, of course, everyone's favourite, speeding offences! For fixed road speed cameras, the government has a least done a job on making the conditions of use of the devices 'reasonable'; here there are no regulations, so a Police Force could use them in any way they wanted. I can think of a couple of circumstances where they could produce a likely-sounding accusation against a train user for exceeding the road speed limit, if the system were not set up sensibly. You might think '...but then I'd go to court...', but you'd probably be underestimating the degree of hassle involved in this, particularly if Plod was just doing this to make your life a misery.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Optional

          > I believe that you are thinking of the wrong problem

          No, *YOU* are thinking of the wrong problem. Kids, grandmas and other people who can't take responsibility for their online behavior should not be online - either on a computer or a phone.

          If you are on the internet and you are not aware of the pitfalls - why are you on the internet ?? Would you be allowed to drive without a license ? No. Similarly if you are a danger to yourself or the society while being online, your activities need to be monitored by someone who is responsible.

          Don't be a speed-bump on technology highway... either evolve or go extinct!

  3. PlacidCasual

    Not just kids

    It seems everything and everyone wants to know who and what I am, where I am and what I'm doing. Services I've paid for have T&C's that require me to allow this and that, Android and friends I'm looking at you, and the device is useless without me accepting the EULA. I have nothing to hide but still find it creepy and annoying. Why does a website need my location if I'm browsing on a smartphone. I feel we're handing too much authority to others but the only other choice is to opt out of useful advances. If it's free and advertising pays for it well thats my call but if I'm paying for a service it puts my nose out of joint to for all the other intrusions to be foisted on me.

    I have two very young children and I realise they are going to grow up in an entirely different World from myself and I'm terrified by the prospect of how differently their perception of life may be to my own.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Not just kids

      I have nothing to hide

      Please, take a place on the couch. Why do you feel you have nothing to hide?

      I feel we're handing too much authority to others but the only other choice is to opt out of useful advances.

      You can't "opt out" of the state's surveillance, dude. Android and friends are just chaff in comparison.

      1. PlacidCasual

        Re: Not just kids

        I guess in so far as the state is concerned at the moment it is only my meta data that falls through their net. The nosey tech companies are being far more targetted and intrusive. Now I admit I am inviting them in but for many services for which I'm willing to pay I can't opt out of inviting them in and offering them access to data I consider superflous to the service I want to buy.

        If I get a plumber round to install a tap whilst makeing conversation I might offer to tell him that I had a nice meal at Luigi's Italian last night I don't see any reason why his terms of service should include leafing through my wallet to look at my reciepts.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not just kids

          I don't see any reason why his terms of service should include leafing through my wallet to look at my reciepts.

          You missed the point there. The state has been taught and is being taught how to play the game by exactly the same tech companies. So the fact that it is not leafing through them today does not mean it will not be leafing through them tomorrow. For example - for tax enforcement purposes.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Watch this space ...

    so far, internet growth has been predicated on society trusting companies to behave themselves. Clearly they can't be trusted (out of interest, what steps did Facebook take in their 2012 emotion-wrangling experiments to ensure that children - and other more vulnerable users - were not used ?).

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Nosy parkers

    Why doe a company need to know my birthdate in order to sell me a washing machine?

    Rhetorical, of course.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Nosy parkers

      Do you know the risks of selling a washing machine to children?

  6. Derichleau

    Kettle black

    AVG themselves are an abuser of privacy. If I pay for a full version of their product then under UK law they cannot promote their products or services to me if I opt-out under section 11 of the DPA. But they're not a UK data controller so they don't don't recognise our rights. So despite the fact that I've paid for the full version they still target me with adverts from time to time an d try to dupe me into paying for more services.

    If I were using the free version then fair enough but I'm not. My AVG licence expires in Oct and I wont' be renewing.

  7. Eradicate all BB entrants

    Well it's quite simple ......

    ...... as installing full AVG with its firewall will block all connections, even plugging your camera into the pc gets blocked. Was a bloody nightmare on remote support with my father until I turned it off.

  8. PCS

    And just how will these websites know the age of viewers based on an IP address?

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Who mentioned anything about IP addresses?

  9. Arctic fox

    Here is the problem with modern Capitalism in a nutshell.

    ""Big companies don't care unless there is a law. Life today is different and children live in a different environment. Companies that collect data and infringe privacy are not necessarily the bad guys, but they often end up doing things which society considers wrong."

    Nobody asks "should we do this?", they ask "can we get away with it?". When it appeared that it was all going to go down the shitter a few years back everybody asked "how could this happen?". The "Cognoscenti" of the Chicago School began to howl about "moral hazard" if any of the poor bastards that got caught up in that poisonous shit got, even partially, forgiven their debts. Where is the "morality" in the "can we get away with it" attitude in the current climate? There are some serious questions to be asked, and even the most fervent supporter of the "Holy Free Market" ought to be willing to discuss the issue without starting to howl like a dog if anyone dares mention the obscene word "regulation".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's probably right

    Software like AVG can't do much about social engineering, and so far at least, it hasn't been very effective against tracking and malware. Laws are ineffective against hackers and malware, but a company selling apps or running websites is an easy target for enforcement IF the law is clear. I wouldn't get my hopes up, but I'm not opposed...

    [Edit:] A law against data mining would be a can of worms. Simply saying "you can't ask for certain personal info" woud stop the most egregious behavior.

  11. Dan Paul

    All or Nothing!

    You cannot determine age on the internet unless you deliberately tell someone. Therefore ALL of this data collection should stop if they want to "protect the children".

    Honestly, we should move to a subscription or full pay model for all currently "free" services so that they have a different way of being paid rather than being a data whore for all of them.

    However, IF you choose to use those "free" services, the ONLY law that applies is the EULA.

    We really don't need another set of laws we just need to use the ones we have properly. If you have to create a law, make it such that the collection of personal data by ANY entity (that has been (including Government) from paid for software or services, is illegal and make the fine worth millions per occurrence.

    As far as morality is concerned, it has no place being forced on anyone as my beliefs are vastly different than yours. Any attempt to codify morality beyond the obvious (murder, theft, rape etc) is a form of religious discrimination.

    The "holy free market" as you put it is just that. HOLY. If you take away the monetization of data and replace it with a subscription fee then the least expensive service with the most applicable features will eventually win. That's how the free market works. We have ALL seen how well collectivism really works, even China is creeping towards capitalism. It's a natural progression to move towards a renumerative solution.

    Otherwise stop whining and put up with what you have now.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: All or Nothing!

      I don't use any social media, yet information about me is out there. It has been put there by other people. Yes I do object.

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    Free market Holy?

    Free markets are important but markets that are entirely regulation free are not good for anyone.

    The current recession is proof of how deregulation and greed makes not only a lot of money for some but creates a bubble ( that will burst sooner or later) and will generally make more people poorer.

    Morals and ethics are basically about distinguishing between right and wrong so moral or ethical guidelines are not a problem since unless you are a bestial, child molesting satanist your beliefs will not affect your morals that much compared to anyone else who is relatively normal.

    A quick google produced this: from Canada which are basically moral or ethical in content without being religious which I presume is your objection.

    As for EULAs and App permissions it would be interesting to see EULAs that allowed one to agree and disagree with various sections and to be able to enable or disable permissions according to one's taste, particularly when you are paying for an App.

    I have a paid for version of Avast on this machine and lately I have been getting 'grime cleaner' pop ups and other crap adverts, needless to say, at renewal time my card and I will be going elsewhere.

    The bummer is, that at the end of the day much of the info' gathering that governments do is 'in the interests of national security' before national security used to be generally considered to be political and military concerns but now commercial interests come just as high. Since the nineties at least much of Americas espionage gathering has been industrial and often gathered from those normally considered to be allies so don't imagine that information gathered about you by government in any form is not going to be sold on to business somewhere along the line. Witness the UK gov' trying to sell off everyones Health files to insurance and drug companies.

    New laws may not be necessary but certainly the existing laws need updating to include current and upcoming changes in how society works.

  13. hoola

    Why just children

    The principal is fine however AVG are using the "protect our children" to push the concept. This should be any person. The more critical issue that has yet to be addressed is being studiously ignored is age verification and consent. Idiotic parents blatently allow (and encourage) minors to create acccounts where they should not, then whinge "they should do something about it" when it all goes wrong. The global nature of these companies almost puts them above the law and even Governments appear powerless to control them. Any fines are so small compared to their revenue it is irrelevent. Companies such as Facebook, Instagram and Google should be made responsible for validating age and be subject to punative fines, and jail terms for directors if they fail. The users clearly cannot be trusted to provide accurate information or are clueless about the implications so they have to be protected.

  14. RyokuMas Silver badge

    Too late...

    The NHS already use Google to store hospital data - so thanks to a mother-to-be's pregnancy check-ups, children come under the eye of SauronGoogle before they have even been born.

  15. Derichleau

    Get into a habit of opting out under section 11 of the DPA

    We don't need new laws as we have perfectly good but unused laws. Section 11 of the DPA allows an individual to opt-out of all direct marketing from a UK-based company. If parents ensure that they register on behalf of their child then all they need to do is follow that up with an e-mail to the company opting out under section 11. Once opted out, the company cannot legally target the individual with direct marketing by any means, including generic or targeted adverts that appear in a logged in website.

    You then follow that up by submitting a subject access request to any company that sends your child unexpected marketing. At the end of the day, the more people complaint about these companies to the ICO the more likely it is that the ICO will take action. Buying software only hides the problem. The problem is that companies don't understand the law.

    I wouldn't trust AVG anyway as they target me with advertising even though I've purchased the full internet security product. Free version yes, full product no way. My AVG expires in September and I won't be using them again.

  16. Truth4u

    Don't track kids? Why not?

    I saw it on the TV, the bird who runs Nickelodeon, she said basically her job all day long is selling to kids and she loves that shit. She described them as "consumers just like you and me". So if this is acceptable, or if you find it acceptable to pay for Nickelodeon, why would you care about the same thing happening on the internet? It's just money and everyone knows that's more important than kids. QED, You can't even have kids until you have some money.

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