Microsoft’s Personal Assistant, Cortana, Won’t Talk to Kids.

If you’re under the age of thirteen and have a Windows Phone, don’t expect to be able to use Windows Phone 8.1’s new personal assistant as it won’t talk to you, no matter how hard you try.

The latest Windows Phone update brings with it a much anticipated feature that’s currently the star of both Android and iOS, the personal assistant. Until now those with Windows Phones have had to manually enter dates onto their calendar and manually search Bing or Google to answer questions – can you imagine that?

Named Cortana, this personal assistant is Microsoft’s attempt at a personal assistant similar to Siri and Google Now. Those of you familiar with Halo may recognise the name and that’s because it’s named after Master Chief’s AI companion in the Halo series. It sounds pretty awesome, right? Well, not if you’re under 13.

According to a report by CNET, anyone under the age of 13 who tries to talk to Cortana will be ignored. Why? Well the way Cortana works is by collecting data from its users in order to assist it finding questions. This data is then sent to Microsoft’s Services which means Microsoft’s new personal assistant technically falls under the purview of the United States’ Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998.

What this means in practice is COPPA restricts the information children can share online or what can be collected from them without their parents explicit permission. Because Cortana is currently in beta, there aren’t the necessary parental restrictions or settings to say that the child using Cortana is allowed.

Don’t worry though, Cortana only chooses to ignore younger users if they’ve put in their age and doesn’t recognise or grade voice patterns to judge the age of the user which I’m sure is a relief for some.

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