As regulators push website operators to adopt age verification technology to protect children from inappropriate content and social contact with adults, a new opportunity has arisen for advertisers.
Nancy Willard, who calls herself an expert on Internet safety, says age verification companies are using information gained from seeking to verify children’s ages to target them with advertising. She points to California-based eGuardian, which solicits personal information concerning children from parents-including kids’ birthdates, as well as their addresses, schools and genders. The company then offers schools the entire $29 sign-up fee collected from parents for every parent the school steers to the site.
The company’s business plan is to solicit websites that are willing to pay a commission for each eGuardian member, which would allow them use the data collected to tailor their advertising. eGuardian Chief Executive Ron Zayas notes that parents are provided with the choice to opt out of having data shared with advertisers, and says the privacy concerns are a "tradeoff."
"When children go to Web sites today, they are already exposed to ads," Zayas said. "We make sure the ads are appropriate for children. We do not increase the volume of ads shown, nor do we ‘sell them out’ in any way to advertisers."
Read more about the controversy at nytimes.com.