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Tech Giants Apple, Google Remove 3 Dating Apps Targeting Kids

The FTC also issued a consumer alert for parents about the dating apps

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Customers walk past an Apple logo inside of an Apple store at Grand Central Station in New York, Aug. 1, 2018. VOA

Apple and Google have removed three dating apps from their online stores after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged the apps allowed kids as young as 12 to access them.

In a recent letter, the FTC warned Ukraine-based Wildec LLC, which operates the apps Meet24, FastMeet, and Meet4U, that the three dating apps appeared to be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC Act.

“The apps have been removed from the app stores until they address the alleged violations outlined by the FTC,” the commission said on Monday.

The dating apps collected users’ birth dates, email addresses, photographs and real-time location data.

While the three apps claimed in their privacy policies to prohibit users under the age of 13, the apps failed to block users who indicated they were under 13 from using the apps and from being contacted by other users of the apps.

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FILE – The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

In its review of the apps, FTC staff found users who indicated they were as young as 12.

“Allowing adult users to communicate with children poses a serious health and safety risk. Several individuals have reportedly faced criminal charges for allegedly contacting or attempting to contact minors using Wildec’s apps,” said FTC.

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The FTC’s COPPA Rule requires companies collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 to post clear privacy policies and to notify parents and get their verifiable consent before collecting, using, or sharing personal information from a child.

The FTC also issued a consumer alert for parents about the dating apps. (IANS)

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Google Partners Social Alpha to Support Social Impact Start-ups in India

Google Developers Launchpad is a branch of Google that operates a global acceleration programme which helps start-ups around the world to grow

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FILE - A woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. VOA

Tata Trusts’ initiative Social Alpha said on Tuesday it has entered into a partnership with Google Developers Launchpad to support social impact start-ups in Indias growing start-up ecosystem.

The partnership – Social Alpha Powered by Google Developers Launchpad – is designed to help start-ups gain access to resources including expert mentors, tools, and methodologies for building businesses that can drive meaningful impact on the technology ecosystem.

This initiative will enable Social Alpha to create learning programmes based on information and resources aggregated from a select group of the world’s top accelerators.

Social Alpha will also access Google’s global network, insights from the company’s Silicon Valley-based start-up programmes and Google’s research and best practices on building businesses, products, and teams.

“As we continue to build and grow the lab-to-market ecosystem for high impact innovations in India, our portfolio companies need access to world class technologies especially in the areas of data science and machine learning,” Manoj Kumar, Founder and CEO of Social Alpha, said in a statement.

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FILE – The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

“Our partnership with the Google Developers Launchpad program will address this gap, and help unlock the immense potential that resides in these start-ups,” Kumar said.

This partnership will focus on supporting start-ups that have the potential and / or are already incorporating Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Technologies in their work.

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“Google Developers Launchpad doesn’t take an equity stake in accelerator portfolio start-ups, but instead focuses on developing companies and their ecosystems over the long term,” said Kevin O’Toole, Google’s Head of International Growth for Launchpad.

Google Developers Launchpad is a branch of Google that operates a global acceleration programme which helps start-ups around the world to grow. (IANS)