WASHINGTON (December 19, 2018) – Today, Senator Ed J. Markey (D-MA) announced that he and fellow Senators on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee – Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tom Udall (D–NM) – have written a letter urging the Federal Trade Commission to initiate an investigation into the Google Play store.
In a pointed communication of concern addressed to FTC Chairman Simons, along with four key Commissioners – Chopra, Wilson, Phillips and Slaughter – the Senators outlined their key areas of grievance:
- The apps for many of the toys featured in the Google Play Family section do not comply with the Children’s Online Protection Privacy Act (COPPA)
- For example, apps created for toys such as Elmo and Furby share “user information in an insecure manner” as well as “share persistent identifiers with third parties in an unencrypted form”
- Additionally, many contain advertisements not appropriate for children such as gambling, alcohol, and video games for adults, as well as ads that could frighten children or “result in harm if imitated by children”
The Senators make it very clear that the FTC is obligated to investigate such matters of noncompliance, and that there’s no excuse for failing to protect children and families.
Lastly, the three Senators note that they sent a previous letter to the FTC about the COPPA standards and requirements back on October 3, 2018 and appear to be very annoyed that their previous requests on these dire children safety and security matters are going unheeded. They ended their letter by urging an immediate investigation and requesting a response no later than January 8, 2019.
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