Over 820 million UK children ‘targeted with personalized ads every day’


Hundreds of millions of digital profiles of children in UK are shared with online advertisers every day to target young internet users with personalized ads, news research found.

Advertising companies have been allowed to profit from this at the expense of children and older internet users, by tracking and recording their online activity and tricking tech giants, including Google and Facebook, to collect as much data as possible, warned the New Economics Foundation think tank.

At least 820 million digital profiles of UK children are shared and auctioned daily on real-time auction ad networks, through which websites and apps collect large amounts of user data, including date of birth, gender, device details and location to present. , users with personalized ads.

Google and Facebook are the most prolific Internet advertising companies, earning billions of dollars each year.

The group is calling on the government to ban “surveillance advertising” in its upcoming online safety bill, which it believes would be the most effective way to protect children from the collection of their data.

The increase in time spent online during the pandemic has exposed children to higher levels of data collection, profiling and surveillance advertising, said Duncan McCann, senior researcher at the New Economics Foundation.

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“For those under 13, this practice is supposed to be severely restricted, but the security measures to prevent it are not suitable for the purpose,” he said. “The government must stop the Internet from spying on our children in order to track and advertise them. The only winners of the surveillance ad system are the ad technology companies themselves. These companies profit at the expense of children, society at large and even online publishers. “

Apple recently released a privacy feature that allows iPhone owners to control how apps use and share their data, including browsing history, age, location, health information, and spending habits, among others, which Facebook has criticized as harmful to small ads.

Opening an app on an iPhone running the latest iOS 14.5 software triggers a prompt asking the user for permission to track their data on external apps and websites that might be shared with advertisers and advertisers. data brokers, allowing them to ask the app not to track or to allow data sharing.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg accused the feature of affecting the growth of millions of businesses around the world in January, saying the update would prevent small businesses from targeting customers with ads.

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