Google to block age-sensitive ads for people under 18

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 11, 2021

Internet major to bring in changes to Google account to safeguard children from online vulnerabilities

Google in the coming weeks and months is going to make a number of changes to Google Accounts for people under 18 in an effort to safeguard them from online vulnerabilities.

In a blogpost on Wednesday, Mindy Brooks, General Manager, Kids and Families, Google wrote that the company will be expanding safeguards to prevent age-sensitive ad categories from being shown to teens, and will block ad targeting based on the age, gender or interests of people under 18. “We’ll start rolling out these updates across our products globally over the coming months. Our goal is to ensure we’re providing additional protections and delivering age-appropriate experiences for ads on Google,” she wrote.

For instance, in YouTube, the company is going to change the default upload setting to the most private option available for teens aged 13-17. In addition it will more prominently surface digital well-being features, and provide safeguards and education about commercial content.


Similarly, in Search, one of the protections Google offers is SafeSearch, which helps filter out explicit results when enabled and is already on by default for all signed-in users under 13 who have accounts managed by Family Link. “In the coming months, we’ll turn SafeSearch on for existing signed-in users under 18 and make this the default setting for teens setting up new accounts,” Brooks wrote.

Also read: Indian start-ups oppose Google’s new ad platform

She said the company was also working to prevent mature content from surfacing during a child’s experience with Google Assistant on shared devices, and in the coming months will be introducing new default protections. “For example, we will apply our SafeSearch technology to the web browser on smart displays.”

Talking about Location History, she said it's already off by default for all accounts, and children with supervised accounts don’t have the option of turning Location History on. “Taking this a step further, we’ll soon extend this to users under the age of 18 globally, meaning that Location History will remain off (without the option to turn it on),” she mentioned.

For Google Play, she said Apps will be required to disclose how they use the data they collect in greater detail, making it easier for parents to decide if the app is right for their child before they download it.

In Google Workspace for Education, to make web browsing safer, K-12 institutions will have SafeSearch technology enabled by default, while switching to Guest Mode and Incognito Mode for web browsing will be turned off by default, she further wrote.

“Having an accurate age for a user can be an important element in providing experiences tailored to their needs. Yet, knowing the accurate age of our users across multiple products and surfaces, while at the same time respecting their privacy and ensuring that our services remain accessible, is a complex challenge. It will require input from regulators, lawmakers, industry bodies, technology providers, and others to address it – and to ensure that we all build a safer internet for kids,” she added.

Published on August 11, 2021

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