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Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)
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Policy Primer - kik Messenger (NET303 - Curtin Uinversity)


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University assignment reviewing kik Messenger from the perspective of parents to children of 13-18 years old and not wanting them to use FaceBook and broad social networks. The Policy Primer gives a …

University assignment reviewing kik Messenger from the perspective of parents to children of 13-18 years old and not wanting them to use FaceBook and broad social networks. The Policy Primer gives a brief overview of the kik legals from the parent's perspective.

Published in: Education, Technology
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  • As someone unfamiliar with kik messenger, I was fascinated to read about this smartphone app. The first thing I noticed is that the privacy settings can cause problems, since most young people appear to be not overly concerned over their privacy. It is interesting that you point out that connecting to social networks using kik may defeat the privacy controls; it is understandable that despite reading the terms and conditions, users may not understand the implication of “Third Party” involvement. As Barbaro and Zeller (2006) note, individuals can be identified from the dispersed information gathered by these third parties, and while this may not immediately affect the daily life of the average 13 year old, by the time they are actively looking for work this information has the potential to harm their employment prospects. It would be interesting to know how many parents explain these Terms of Service to their children and ensure that their children know what their responsibilities are when using the service. How many parents would explain that this is a legal contract that, despite their being under legal age for most contracts, in this instance the law is likely to side with kik should a problem arise.
    I enjoyed the presentation of your primer, my own policy primer can be found at
    Barbaro, M., & Zeller, T. (2006, August 9th). A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749. New York Times. Retrieved from
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  • 1. kik messenger: “smartphone-only message app” kik appears to be a good solution for children over 13 years of age to communicate via their Smartphones, but is it ‘smart’ if you (or they) have not read the ‘Legals’? NET303 – Internet Politics and Power, Curtin University Assignment 2: Policy Primer kik website frontpage screenshot - copyright and courtesy:
  • 2. A brief introduction to ‘kik messenger’ • kik is freely downloadable from app stores and operates on major smartphones such as: • • • • • Apple Android Windows Phone Nokia, and BlackBerry NET303: POLICY PRIMER • Over 200,000 people join kik messenger everyday and there are over 85 million people using kik already (Kik Boiler Plate, 2013, para. 1). kik is popular with children aged 13-18 years as it is similar to texting but free if accessed using WiFi (Redux, 2013, para. 5). 21/10/2013 • kik messenger (kik) is a smartphone-only messaging application (app) developed in 2009 by a group of students from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (Kik Boiler Plate, 2013, para. 1). 2 kik smartphone screenshots - copyright and courtesy:
  • 3. kik ‘legals’ – are they easy to find? NET303: POLICY PRIMER 21/10/2013 • The link to kik ‘legal’ is in grey text at the bottom of the web site front page, and whilst it is not hard to find it is not offered as a prominent blue text link at the top right alongside: ‘About’, ‘Help’ and ‘Download’. • Perhaps kik would seem more transparent, particularly with parents of the 13-18 year old market, if that link was at the top of the page and more prominently coloured. 3 kik website frontpage screenshot - copyright and courtesy:
  • 4. • Kik privacy allows groups of two or more users who know each other’s ‘username’ to form a ‘conversation’ and only those in the group can see that conversation. • However, if a kik username is shared or used in other more visible platforms such as Facebook and Instagram it is possible for unknown persons, with possible ill-intent, to make contact with the kik user by chat request and connect to children (Hoal, 2013, para. 6). • At this point, kik does not have advertising or commercial messages within the kik messenger environment and even notes that advertising or promoting to users is not ‘acceptable use’. NET303: POLICY PRIMER • kik offers a range of privacy settings on installation including the choice to not give kik access to mobile contacts in order to find “suggested friends”. So from this perspective the user can stay private in kik and only connect with those people they want to know by directly sharing their username off the service. 21/10/2013 How do kik legals keep children ‘relatively safe’? 4
  • 5. What legal aspects are not as safe for children? • Identity requires only a verifiable email address for the user to receive a confirmation email with a link to complete the registration process. • This may be set up for free through any number of online services such as Gmail; if false names and contacts are to be used. • Messages sent using WiFi do not show up on telephone invoices as they are ‘free’ data and this means that parents are unable to verify who they children are messaging (Caetano, 2013, para. 2). NET303: POLICY PRIMER • This doesn’t seem to be very reliable but is similar to other social network acceptance procedures. 21/10/2013 • Age verification is very simplistic with a simple click required to answer ‘yes’ on the app store that the user is older than the minimum age. 5
  • 6. kik ‘legals’–overall, are they easy to understand? • The Privacy Policy primarily focuses on the user: • It details how kik deal with the user registration information, identity and details, and how third party applications deal with the same information on their application. • The Terms of Service (TOS) primarily focus on what the user can and cannot do, on kik or with kik software: • For example: the TOS contains ‘user content’ policy, termination of the agreement and how Third Parties and government laws affect the TOS agreement. • Each of these sections is linked from a content menu at the top of the page and the content is logically numbered and headed (or bolded) making it a simple process to refer back to, or find any particular legal information. • A browser page keyword search will also yield information quickly. NET303: POLICY PRIMER • The legal document has two major sub-sections: Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. 21/10/2013 • The kik ‘legal’ document is published on a web site page in Plain English making it relatively easy to understand even without legal experience. 6
  • 7. If kik updates the ‘legals’ will the user know? • Kik notes that any changes to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service will be advised 30 calendar days in advance to registered users via their chosen email address or a through a notice on the kik website. • If the email address is invalid through user error or lack of updating of current contacts kik is not obligated or liable to the user if there are changes to the legal terms. NET303: POLICY PRIMER • The legals would seem relatively overdue for update in comparison to the frequent updates produced by other online networks such as Google or Facebook. 21/10/2013 • Interestingly, the current version of the Privacy Policy is dated 2011, and the Terms of Service are dated in 2010. 7
  • 8. These major concerns are: 1. Privacy and Terms of Service of the App Store from where kik is downloaded 2. The possible use of Third Parties to host the servers of the ‘kik messenger service’, and 3. Connecting from kik to other social network platforms such as YouTube and Instagram and children not reading their terms of service or privacy policies. • Accepting the Terms of any one of these third parties may open up access to the user’s mobile data logs, the mobile unique identifier number, contact lists and other information. • In Google’s case – they may attempt to match any mobile data and information to Google Accounts (Google Privacy Policy, 2013, para.7) enabling them to identify a user, effectively negating the kik identity privacy control. NET303: POLICY PRIMER Whilst kik is considered to be a relatively private communication platform for children—because it does not publicly display a telephone number, only the chosen ‘username’ (Hoal, 2013, para.2)—there is a major concern with ‘third party’ involvement at a number of levels. 21/10/2013 The “Third Party” in kik’s legals is nothing to celebrate. 8
  • 9. • kik does comprehensively state in their ‘Acceptable Use Policy’ (Privacy Policy 4.4) that kik messenger users agree to not distribute, use or upload any third party material that is offensive, copyrighted, or to inflict malice or viruses. • Like other social network and messaging services if you agree to the Terms of Service of kik you grant them: NET303: POLICY PRIMER • kik is very clear in its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service as to what their users should be aware of and what is not acceptable; however, they also state that kik are not liable or responsible for User Content, nor do they track or monitor it. 21/10/2013 Is user content controlled? Who has copyright? “an irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free and fully paid, worldwide license, with the right to grant sublicenses, (a) to reproduce, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, prepare derivative works of, incorporate into other works, and otherwise use your Public Profile, solely to display your Public Profile on the Site and Kik Messenger”. (Kik, 2011, p.10) 9
  • 10. American Professor of Law, Jonathon Zittrain, warns of trusting others with your data as “they can let you down or betray you outright” (Zittrain, 2009, para. 4). This would seem very prudent advice for all parents believing their children are safe anywhere on the Internet–let alone on kik messenger. Final word: Whilst kik messenger does give children 13-18 years old the ability to network on their mobile service in an environment that appears to be more privacy-controlled than popular social networks, it is important that parents and their children understand any legal requirements of kik and agree on safe usage of public space; whilst understanding the likely consequences of not doing so. NET303: POLICY PRIMER Perhaps the common term “stranger danger” continues to apply when children are involved in new interactions, regardless of a physical or cyber interaction. 21/10/2013 Can we guard our privacy in an unknown public space? 10
  • 11. REFERENCES Hoal, M.K. (2013). What It Is and What Parents Need to Know. Retrieved from Kik. (2011). Legal: Privacy Policy & Terms of Service. Retrieved from Kik Boiler Plate. (2013). Kik Press Kit October 2013:Kik Boiler Plate. Retrieved from Redux, J. (2013). What is Kik and why should you use it? Retrieved from NET303: POLICY PRIMER Google Privacy Policy. (2013). Google Policies & Principles: Privacy Policy. Retrieved from 21/10/2013 Caetano, L. (2013). Does Kik Messenger Pose a Danger to Your Kids? Retrieved from Zittrain, J. (2009, July 20). Lost in the Cloud. The New York Times. Retrieved from ewanted=all& 11