In recent years, many laws have been issued to keep children safe from inappropriate content on the Internet.
For the psychologist and mother of Maria Mazurina, the sensational laws did not help in any way to protect their five-year-old son from Internet zombies. After several unsuccessful attempts to get rid of the fantastic creatures, screaming intruding into the children's educational game, she filed a lawsuit in the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow against the Russian representation of the American company Apple.
The complaint under the category “On compensation for moral harm in connection with harm to the life and health of [a child]” was registered and accepted for consideration by the judge.
Novye Izvestia talked to Maria Mazurina and found out why she decided to go to court.
"When the child was five years old, my husband and I studied some mobile applications in the AppStore for children and we were pleased to find that many good educational games have been created, during which preschoolers are taught. We have downloaded and installed several such game applications on our phone.
When choosing apps for a child, Maria deliberately sorted out the age limit - all downloaded apps were labeled 4+. Before giving the phone to their son, the parents tested the games themselves.
- I clearly monitor the quality of the content, as I understand that at this age the child's psyche is extremely vulnerable. Everything was fine at first. The child collected puzzles. But at some point I hear a wild roar and angry growl coming from the phone instead of the melodic accompanying music.
I walk up to the screen and see a zombie bite into the body of a man, emitting his last breaths in his lifetime. Blood, guts, a lot of splashes. Thus, a completely childish advertisement of computer games for adults bursts into a child's game.
The child, of course, got scared, burst into tears. As I could, naturally, I reassured him: "Baby, it's just a dream, a fantasy, don't worry." I delete the application, download another game where the child draws. After a few minutes, history repeats itself. I certainly understand that monetization is part of this business. But why does this ad in children's apps not call for buying something for children, a game with cats, for example. Why should a child be looking at scenes of violence while consuming store-approved 4+ content? - says Maria.
Perhaps, otherwise, the parents would not have paid attention to what had happened, but after sudden encounters with zombies, the child began to have nightmares, he began to be afraid of the dark, unidentifiable sounds.
- We live in a two-story house, and at first we had to leave light everywhere, because it seemed to my son that zombies would appear in the dark, and they were afraid of the light. He hears a sound - too, asks me, they say, maybe it's them? In some moments of uncertainty, that picture immediately pops up before his eyes. I never thought it would be such a strong shock for a child growing up in a good family, in a safe environment. But nevertheless, I had to use professional psychological techniques in order to neutralize this harm.
“ The plaintiff believes that these advertisements cause a negative impact on the psyche of children and adults, cause and increase background anxiety, cause distrust in the safety of vaccines against coronavirus, which may ultimately lead to a weakening of immunity in the population. The weakening of immunity during the coronavirus pandemic can lead to additional surges in the incidence in our difficult times. Also, such commercials cause fear of zombies in children, ”the lawsuit says.
Maria Mazurina estimated the moral harm inflicted on the child and her at 1 million rubles, and in the claims to the defendants, in addition to payment of compensation, she asks to oblige the company to strengthen the moderation of video ads in applications on mobile devices, as well as to remove ads with zombies from mobile applications during the pandemic.
The representative of Maria Mazurina in court, lawyer Andrei Sergeev, believes that the platform is responsible for such Internet incidents - that is, the AppStore online application store.
- From the point of view of Russian laws, everything seems to be regulated, and preventive measures should work. Federal Law No. 436-FZ "On the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development" prohibits showing children scenes of violence, even if they are drawn. You cannot distribute this over the Internet. The Administrative Code provides for liability under Art. 6.17 with a fine of up to 50 thousand rubles. However, in fact, in-app advertising by mobile software is not moderated or is moderated very late. Bad input filters are a site issue. At the same time, supervisory authorities - the Federal Antimonopoly Service and Rospotrebnadzor - pay insufficient attention to the problem. Applications are uploaded to the site, in this case the AppStore, and its moderators must keep track of which advertising is acceptable and which is not, artificial intelligence algorithms allow it to track and block. I think that a few indicative fines for large sums would have solved the problem in ten days, - the lawyer comments.
Novye Izvestia sent a request to Apple Rus LLC with a request to comment on the established facts of advertising with scenes of violence in children's game applications.
Mikhail Khokholkov, lawyer of Intellect Law:
In Russia, the main law containing provisions on the regulation of content for children - N 436-FZ "On the protection of children from information that is harmful to their health and development", in the Federal Law No. 38-FZ "On Advertising" is devoted to advertising requirements in general. article.
The problem is that the entire law contains only requirements for the content of advertising (for example, there should be no scenes of violence, there should be no impression of the advantages of using certain types of goods and services, minors should not be condemned if they do not use the advertised product, the image should not be used / images of children in advertisements for goods not intended for children, etc.). The legislation does not yet regulate advertising distribution channels, there are no restrictions, for example, on the age of children for whom the display is intended.
The Law "On the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development" introduces five categories of information products - games, books, TV shows, advertising and other information with markings 0+, 6+, 13+, 16+, 18+. Labeling is meant to give parents information about the content - that's all. In fact, the markings can also be seen on cinema screens, and if the film is not intended for children, they will not be allowed to enter the cinema. There are no similar technical age restrictions for Internet users and mobile games. No barriers have yet been created that check passports and refuse children if the content is not intended for their age.
For mobile games, the legislation sets forth its own requirements for content for children, but since Google and the AppStore are American companies, they are subject to the requirements of US law (since 1997, this is COPPPA - the law on protecting children's privacy on the Internet). Recently, for example, Google received a $ 200 million fine for displaying targeted ads in children's content.
In Russia, in addition to the fact that the platform itself, the application store is a zone of foreign jurisdiction, there are also purely legislative gaps in the requirements for both the advertiser and the content distributor (they are separated in the law), and the application owner, and to the creator of promotional items.
Application owners have no control over when and what kind of ads are shown in their application. They just put a permissive checkbox that, in principle, they allow ads in their application, they know that some kind of advertising will be randomly taken from advertising banks and shown in their application. The owner of the application at this point becomes the distributor of advertising, but he in fact cannot determine the content of the advertisement.
In theory, you can complain about online advertising. Google receives a notification that this advertisement, for example, contains scenes of violence and the company is taking response measures - it blocks the advertiser's ad account and the advertisement itself. But this is already a post-reaction. Children have already seen the ban.
The prospects for the FAS proceedings are rather vague, first of all, because the violation must be recorded. And to do this with an advertisement that pops up for seconds and does not understand when it pops up the next time and whether it will pop up at all is problematic. FAS will not help if there is no evidence of the distribution of certain content.
What is the way out of this situation? First, the creation of a filter for the owners of the application, by releasing a child's game, for example, the owners, in addition to the common checkbox allowing advertising, should have a number of parameters available - which advertising cannot get into their application, for example. Now technically there is no such possibility. he allows advertising and understands that something unacceptable can pass or he refuses to display ads for his application at all, which means he loses monetization and it is not clear why he worked and released the application.
The advertiser, for his part, must clearly and conscientiously mark his advertising, he must not seek to bypass the ban, must not do so that when interacting with the advertising platform one content is declared, but actually crawls out another.
Google play and the AppStore should somehow synchronize with Russian laws when they work for the Russian consumer, and also moderate the content more carefully when uploading a video to an advertising network.
Oleg Matyunin, Lawyer, Managing Partner of the Moscow Law Office "Matyunins and Partners":
- In the described situation, I would like to draw your attention to three important points. Firstly, the Internet, smartphones and mobile applications, in my opinion, are not the best space for children's leisure, especially for minors. This is scientifically proven. Secondly, let us recall the history of the formation of the Web and the development of Internet technologies in our country. The state did not create the Internet. Prohibitions and restrictions in this area appeared gradually, often with a significant delay. It is impossible to protect everyone from all Internet threats at the legislative level. Technologies are still ahead of the legislator. Third, Internet users interact with literally the entire world. And from a legal point of view, this is a problem, because the conditional game developer and advertiser from California, Singapore or Germany is not particularly interested in our national legislation.
The Children's Information Protection Act applies to software, including mobile apps, and does not apply to advertising. In the law on advertising, the line of protection of children from harmful influences is poorly worked out. There are no separate articles devoted to the features of advertising distribution through mobile applications. The general requirements for advertising stipulate that it should not encourage the commission of illegal actions, as well as call for violence and cruelty. In accordance with the Law on Information, it is possible to block sites that contain information aimed at persuading or otherwise involving minors in committing illegal actions that pose a threat to their life, health, or the life or health of other people. Parents whose children have seen enough aggressive advertising in "children's" games can send complaints to two authorities:
1) the Federal Antimonopoly Service, which controls advertising,
2) Roskomnadzor, which controls the Internet.
But! If you want faster and more effective solutions, then instead of leaving young children with smartphones, it is better to read books with them.