Dem senators pressure FTC to investigate deceptive internet marketing to children

Dem senators pressure FTC to investigate deceptive internet marketing to children
© Greg Nash

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 MarkeyHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator FTC looks to update children's internet privacy rules MORE (D-Conn.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress House passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' 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.