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Can we really keep our kids safe?

Everyday, we hear about another child horror: from kidnapping to elevator stabbing, to wandering out of school to being left alone with matches. No matter how hard we try, life happens, and we can't protect all kids, all the time.
June 11, 2014

Everyday, we hear about another child horror: from kidnapping to elevator stabbing, to wandering out of school to being left alone with matches. And that’s not even taking the internet into consideration. No matter how hard we try, life happens, and we can’t protect all kids, all the time.

Dan Nelson has a plan to change that. At least for digital brands that are still covered by the COPPA laws.

A former AOL-er, who ran AOL Kids and Parental controls, Nelson has just launched Kpass.  At its heart, Kpass is a single-sign-on digital identity for kids online (think Facebook or Google+ to login to sites and apps) that puts parents in control of the information sharing.  The platform also gives brands an easy way to provide COPPA-safe notices and receive consent for their apps and sites.

“Kpass is part B2B compliance platform and part B2C user interface,” says Nelson.  “It has the potential to fundamentally change how people share information on the internet.  The current digital identities are all social, and use personal information to sell more ads.  Kpass believes that users should control their personal information, and we are starting that movement with kids and parents, who need it the most.”

By using common oAuth2.0 standards, Kpass is designed to work across any app on any device connected to the internet (even smart TVs and video game systems).  Kpass allows brands to create custom notifications and permissions that go straight to parents, without disrupting the educational, engaging or entertainment ability of their product.  “We want brands to focus on creating awesome digital experiences, not worry about building a compliance database,” says Nelson.

Parents will also benefit from the growth of Kpass, because for the first time they will have an internet-wide dashboard showing where, how and when their kids connect to their favorite sites.  Rather than managing all the permissions with dozens of sites and apps via their email inbox, Kpass gives parents one convenient place to display all of their kids’ information sharing. As part of the launch strategy, the current service is free to parents.

Sounds like a simple win-win. But since a product is only worthwhile if people desire it, it ultimately comes back to the kids. Kids have to want a real digital identity. (We know they’re smart enough to beat the current age gates.) Kpass’ potential is in the growth of its promotive brand. “Kpass is focused on delivering a product that treats kids as rational consumers, not compliance risks.  Our branding of a ‘pass’, rather than a ‘lock’, ‘check’ or ‘guard’, reaffirms that commitment to empower kids to become safe and smart internet users.” says Nelson.

So have we found the Holy Grail? Not quite yet, warns Linnette Attai, founder of Playwell. LLC. “There are a number of companies coming into the compliance space now, working on solving privacy issues with technology, which is terrific. However, there is no “magic bullet” yet when it comes to COPPA-compliance solutions. There are a lot of moving parts to the regulation, and it’s important for those looking for solutions to understand which parts of COPPA these new products are trying to tackle.  In addition, parents and industry need to be mindful that privacy and safety – while related – are not the same thing. COPPA deals with data privacy, not with keeping children safe. It’s part of the equation, but there is much more to it than that.”

Companies such as Kpass, Privo, and others are definitely moving in the right direction. But we can never really keep our kids safe.  We can only keep trying to keep them safer.

Send me your thoughts! Wendy@sandboxsummit.org

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