The ESRB Really Wants Children’s Personal Data


Would you allow a company to use facial recognition and AI to permit or deny your child from playing a game? The ESRB thinks that you will.

The ESRB’s job is to slap a label on a game, letting buyers/parents know if the title’s content is suitable for a certain age range. That’s really it. So, why does the Entertainment Software Rating Board need the FTC to modify the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)? Because it wants to use the cameras on smartphones and tablets to gain verifiable parental consent (VPC).

Are red flags waving? Certainly.

It is understandable that the ESRB would want to make sure that kids aren’t playing games that they shouldn’t. However, using AI and facial recognition to lock them out of an app comes with a lot of potential issues. Such as what data is stored and if/how/when can it ever be accessed.

The ethics issues extend beyond a faceless self-regulating non-profit having access to the faces of minors and feeding their personal data into an AI. A co-applicant for the petition is an extension of Epic Games, SuperAwesome. Thanks to the subsidiary’s actions, Epic had to fork out a fortune for violating COPPA.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board, in a statement, made the following proclamation:

“First and foremost, this application is not to authorize the use of this technology with children. Full stop. Nor does this software take and store ‘selfies’ of users or attempt to confirm the identity of users. Furthermore, this application makes no mention of using age estimation to prevent children from purchasing and/or downloading restrictively rated video games, nor do we intend to recommend its use in that way…”

Clarification on how the VPC would be implemented was given by a spokesperson for the board:

“To be perfectly clear: Any images and data used for this process are never stored, used for AI training, used for marketing, or shared with anyone; the only piece of information that is communicated to the company requesting VPC is a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ determination as to whether the person is over the age of 25.”

Would you trust the ESRB with your child’s info?

[Source: GameIndustry.biz] [Source: FTC]


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Mike Phalin
Mike Phalinhttp://syxxsense.com
Longtime problematic entertainment journalist. The former workhorse for Dread Central, ScienceFiction.com, and Fanbolt.

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