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 MarkeyKennedy, Markey neck-and-neck in Massachusetts primary: poll Overnight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development MORE (D-Conn.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: EPA moves to limit financial pressure on 'forever chemical' manufacturers | California sues Trump over water order| Buttigieg expands on climate plan Now is our chance to turn the tide on ocean plastic pollution Buttigieg expands on climate plan with new proposals 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.