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Groups Seek Investigation of Child-Directed Digital Marketplace

Almost three dozen privacy and child advocates want the Federal Trade Commission to subpoena records from various companies, likely including Google, Disney, Viacom, and others, before it makes any changes to its COPPA Rule, which enforces the Child Online Privacy Protection Act.

That is according to a copy of their comments to the FTC. The FTC is currently deciding whether and how to change that enforcement in the wake of complaints about how content providers target that audience with information and/or advertising and in turn, collect data from those kids.

Related: FTC Extends COPPA Comment Deadline

COPPA requires operators of web sites targeted to kids or with actual knowledge that kids are using the site to obtain parental permission to collect, use or disclose personal information of anyone under 13.

The groups are not suggesting some specific malfeasance, just saying the FTC needs to collect more information before taking action, given ongoing concerns about data collection.

Groups calling for the subpoenas include the American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumer Reports, the Campaign for a Consumer-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy.

"As kids are spending more time than ever on digital devices, we need the full power of the law to protect them from predatory data collection -- but we can't protect children from Big Tech business models if we don't know how those models truly work," said CCFC executive director Josh Golin. "The FTC must use its full authority to investigate opaque data and marketing practices before making any changes to COPPA. We need to know what Big Tech knows about our kids." 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.