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Cortana can't talk to kids under age 13

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Under 13? Cortana won't talk to you. Not yet anyway.

Cortana, the voice-activated personal assistant on Windows Phone — named for Master Chief's AI companion in the Halo series — will not speak to anyone under the age of 13 who attempts to use her services, according to a report by CNET.

That's because Cortana is designed to collect data on its users to assist it in finding answers to their questions. That data is sent to Microsoft services, which means Cortana falls under the purview of the United States' Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998.

COPPA restricts the information that children can share online, or that can be collected from them, without a parent's permission. Cortana, reports CNET, does not feature the necessary parental controls, though she is in a beta stage, currently available only to developers. CNET points out the issue was raised in a Microsoft forum by one developer looking to help a daughter use Cortana.

Cortana recognizes how old her user is only if she is told a specific age; it doesn't recognize or grade voice patterns for someone's age.

Jen Taylor, the voice of the original Cortana in Halo, supplies some voice work when the phone is questioned about Halo. For all other queries, a synthesized voiced based on Taylor's will be used.

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