Dem senators pressure FTC to investigate deceptive internet marketing to children

A trio of Democratic senators is pushing for the Federal Trade Commission to probe manipulative advertising practices on phone apps aimed at children.


“The FTC has a statutory obligation to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive advertising practices. That responsibility is all the more urgent when the potential victims of such practices are children,” Sens. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyBipartisan Senate bill would penalize illegal robocalls Hillicon Valley: Russian-linked hackers may have impersonated US officials | Trump signs DHS cyber bill | Prosecutors inadvertently reveal charges against Assange | Accenture workers protest border enforcement work | App mines crypto for bail bonds Senators push bipartisan bill to crack down on robocalls MORE (D-Conn.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallWarren, 2020 Dems target private immigration detention center operators Hillicon Valley: Trump eyes staff shake-up | Amazon taps NYC, Northern Virginia for new offices | What it will mean for DC | Tech firms buck Trump on cyber pact | Defense official warns against hacking back Dem senators pressure FTC to investigate deceptive internet marketing to children MORE (D-N.M.) and Richard Blumenthal wrote (D-Mass.) in their letter to FTC Commissioners.

“As parents increasingly permit kids to engage in online games and apps for entertainment and fun, it is imperative to ensure that these playtime options are compliant with existing laws,” they continued.

They wrote that their letter was galvanized by a recent study conducted by the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics which found several examples of advertising techniques that may be considered “deceptive” and “unfair” under Section 5 of the FTC Act.

The senators cautioned that children require extra advertising protection than adults because they are often “unable to distinguish between advertising and non-sponsored content.”

They warned this can lead to children purchasing apps on their parents’ phones without realizing it.

Markey and Blumenthal have made previous efforts to advocate for children’s issues regarding technology. The two have sounded the alarm on issues like problematic content for children on Youtube, child data privacy protections and questioned Facebook’s Messenger app for children.

Their warnings come among a growing consensus of concern for how children are affected by screen time as parents, even those in Silicon Valley, work to limit their children’s time with electronics.

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