Microsoft's Cortana doesn't talk with kids under 13 due to COPPA

  • Published in Apps news

Microsoft’s voice activated virtual assistant for Windows 8.1, Cortana, named after Halo’s AI character companion, does not talk with users younger than 13.

Following Apple’s implementation of Siri, Microsoft designed Cortana (named after the AI computer from the Halo series), a speech recognition software allowing users to ask it questions and perform tasks. Cortana collects data on users in order to adapt over time and shape up the user-experience accordingly, which means that it gets in direct conflict with US law, specifically the Children’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).


COPPA states that children under the age of 13 are not allowed to share information online without the approval of a parent. Since Cortana doesn’t have any kind of parental control, at least at this point in its development, if the user’s listed as being younger than 13 on the Microsoft account, talking to Cortana will result in “I’m sorry, you’ll need to be older before I can help you,” answer. Of course, the software knows your age only if you’ve got that covered in the account. It may be possible to trick the AI yet.

Cortana is part of the Windows Phone 8.1 experience, and takes on the role of a virtual Assistant, in a world where Android users are looking for Google Now, and Apple has Siri for the iPhone. A beta version of the software is currently available for developers.

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