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US parents want better privacy protections for kids: survey
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 8, 2010


Microsoft boss upbeat on new mobile phone operating system
Madrid (AFP) Oct 8, 2010 - Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer said Friday he was confident the company's new mobile phone operating system would help it claw back market share from rivals, days after Goldman Sachs downgraded its assessment of the firm's stock. The world's largest software company will launch Windows Phone 7 in New York on Monday, trying to recover ground lost to Apple's iPhone, Research in Motion's BlackBerry and Google's Android mobile platform. "We are excited to be able to launch Windows Phone 7. We think we have pretty unique ideas and a unique perspective," he told a business conference in Madrid when asked if he thought the new operating system would help the firm make up for lost ground.

"I think our products will stand out compared to any others. We would not be launching the product if we did not feel good about its chances to do well." Investment bank Goldman Sachs on Monday downgraded its rating on Microsoft shares to "neutral" from "buy," saying revenues would remain under pressure until the company gained a firmer foothold in smartphone and iPad-style computer tablets. Ballmer said Windows-based tablets would be on the market as soon as they are ready. "You will see us to continue to push Windows into new formats and when there is news on the topic we will report it," he said.

Technology website Neowin.net said sources close to Microsoft had hinted the company would use the launch of its new mobile phone operating system on Monday to outline plans for a series of tablet-like devices running the Windows operating system. According to market research firm Gartner, Microsoft's share of the worldwide mobile operating system market will fall to 4.7 percent this year from 8.7 percent last year. In June, Microsoft killed the "Kin," a line of mobile telephones aimed at young people it had unveiled just two months earlier. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Microsoft would on Monday offer three Windows Phone 7 smartphones with handsets made by South Korea's Samsung and LG Electronics and Taiwan's HTC.

When it comes to protecting the privacy of their children, US parents give social networks a failing grade.

Three out of four parents polled by Zogby International believe social networks are not doing a good job of protecting kids' online privacy.

The survey was conducted for Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families navigate the world of media and technology.

Ninety-two percent of parents said they are concerned that children share too much information online, and 85 percent said they are more concerned about online privacy than they were five years ago.

The poll found a great deal of concern about geo-location services which pinpoint someone's whereabouts.

Ninety-one percent of parents said search engines and social networking sites should not be able to share the physical location of children with other companies until parents give authorization.

"The poll results present a clear divide between the industry's view of privacy and the opinion of parents and kids," Common Sense Media chief executive and founder James Steyer said.

"American families are deeply worried about how their personal information is being used by technology and online companies, yet the companies appear to be keeping their heads deep in the sand," Steyer said.

Technology companies need to step up but parents, children, schools and government also need to do more, he said.

"Parents and kids have to educate themselves about how to protect their information," he said. "Schools should teach all students and their parents about privacy protection.

"And finally, policymakers have to update privacy policies for the 21st century," he said.

According to the Zogby poll, more than 60 percent of parents want the US Congress to update online privacy laws for children and teenagers.

"Parents want far more education and leadership about online privacy, and they clearly want the industry and the federal government to update privacy policies," Steyer said.

"There are some common sense solutions to these problems, such as 'opt-in' policies that require companies to let parents know how information will be used before it's collected and requiring companies to use short and simple privacy policies instead of confusing and dense policies," he said.

Steyer, Deputy Education Secretary Anthony Miller, Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz and Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski launched a "Protect Our Privacy - Protect Our Kids" campaign aimed at protecting the personal information and reputations of children online.

The campaign includes consumer tips, information, and videos and a privacy curriculum for teachers and schools around the United States.

Zogby polled 2,100 adults in August. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

In other findings, Zogby found that 68 percent of parents are not at all confident in search engines keeping their private information safe and secure and 71 percent of parents said the same about social networking sites.

Eighty-eight percent of parents said they would support a law that required online search engines and social networking services to get users' permission before they use personal information to market products.

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