How do you make something that’s traditionally been fine print readable and relevant?”
That was the question that Lorraine Akemann, co-founder of Moms With Apps, posed to me as we chatted about privacy policies in kids’ apps and her latest venture. Akemann has partnered with the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) as a spokesperson to help roll out KNOW What’s Inside™ a new program to promote best practices for online privacy in apps for children.
MTB: What was the motivation behind KNOW What’s Inside?
LA: “Developers are juggling a lot just trying to make their apps and figure out the marketplace, so when you put a new regulation on top of them that is this complex, you risk them leaving the kids market and going someplace else. So we just translated it into layman’s terms a little bit to encourage developers to stay in the marketplace.”
The goal, as I learned from my conversation with Akemann, is to encourage developers of children’s apps to incorporate privacy best practices into the design of their apps with the added option of placing a KNOW What’s Inside badge on their apps.
This is the KNOW What’s Inside badge:
MTB: What is the key takeaway for developers?
LA: You can work with the regulations and it just takes putting privacy into design.
MTB: Can you explain the implications of the Know What’s Inside badge for consumers (i.e. parents buying apps for their kids)?
LA: “The KNOW What’s Inside badge means that it’s a move to be transparent. It means, “hey consumer, you need to know what’s inside” and “hey developer, you need to tell people.” It’s a call to action. Developers create conscientiously and consumers consume thoughtfully.”
In addition, Akemann mentioned that developers can include an optional privacy icon into their apps.
This is the privacy icon:
Akemann’s Partnership with ACT
Akemann’s presence in the kids app community has been well-respected since 2010 when she co-founded Moms With Apps, a collaborative network of developers who create apps for kids. I was curious to know how Akemann came to partner with ACT on KNOW What’s Inside. Akemann pointed out that over the past two years, children’s online privacy has become a national conversation. As part of that conversation, ACT, as a trade association, was called upon to testify about children’s online privacy, and they reached out to Akemann for help.
KNOW What’s Inside is run by Sara Kloek, Director of Outreach at ACT, who provided a statement about the program for this article:
With over 2 million apps to choose from, discovering family friendly apps is a daunting task. Since July, over 100 companies have pledged to let parents KNOW What’s Inside their apps by meeting high standards of privacy and safety. Soon, parents and educators will find a home on momswithapps.com to find and sort apps from these award-winning companies.” (Sara Kloek, ACT)
KNOW What’s Inside – Resources for App Developers:
- Learn more about KNOW What’s Inside
- Find out what the KNOW What’s Inside program means
- Sign up here
- Read more about the background and timeline of privacy milestones.
KNOW What’s Inside Program Partner Program:
To spread the word about the KNOW What’s Inside initiative, a new KNOW What’s Inside Partner Program is being formed. If you are a member of the app developer or blogger community and are interested in helping to spread the word, read more about it here and contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mommy Tech Bytes’ Perspective
From all that I’ve learned about KNOW What’s Inside, I personally feel that this is the beginning of something really big and exciting for the developers who make kids’ apps and the parents who purchase them. As a parent, I feel better knowing upfront exactly what will be in the apps I purchase for my preschooler so there are no surprises. I also believe the badge and privacy icons give developers a chance to communicate better with parents about their apps. In summary, this program can help uphold best practices for children’s online privacy policies and also streamline communication between developers and consumers. My hope is to see the KNOW What’s Inside badge become the standard for all kids’ apps.
About Lorraine Akemann
Akemann is co-founder of Moms With Apps, a collaborative network of developers who create apps for kids. After launching her own app in 2009, she recognized the need for knowledge-sharing and cross-marketing to help gain exposure in the App Store marketplace. Now hundreds of developers are interconnected over forums, groups and services that sprouted from within the Moms With Apps community. Lorraine’s advocacy and efforts are focused on supporting apps that are designed to respect children and families, and her partnership with the Association for Competitive Technology is based on bringing best practices in online privacy to the forefront of kids’ app development. You can find Lorraine on Twitter @momswithapps.
My sincere thanks to Lorraine Akemann and Sara Kloek for their contributions to this article.
Find a list of app companies who have joined KNOW What’s Inside here!
What are your thoughts on privacy in kids’ apps? Please comment with your thoughts below.
Happy Tech Parenting!
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