BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Several thousand people have surrounded Serbia’s state TV building during anti-government protests requesting more media freedom in the Balkan country. The...
Consumer groups allege Google misleads kids in FTC complaint
Science & Technology By: The Bullet Wire December 19th, 2018 10:45 am
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nearly two dozen consumer, privacy and public health groups are urging U.S. regulators to investigate whether children are being endangered by deceptive apps in Google’s app store for smartphones running on its Android software.
The 102-page complaint filed Wednesday with the Federal Trade Commission alleges Google’s Play store is harming kids by allowing apps that break privacy laws, contain adult content or include manipulative advertising in a section of its Play store designed for children.
The call for FTC action is being led by two groups, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy, that have previously attacked Google’s approach to kids. In April, they asked the FTC to crack down on Google’s YouTube video site for alleged violations of children’s online privacy.
Twenty other groups, including Consumer Action, Public Citizen and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, joined in the latest complaint.
Google issued a statement emphasizing its commitment to protecting children while they are online — one of the reasons the company says it prohibits targeted advertising at children under 13.
“We take these issues very seriously and continue to work hard to remove any content that is inappropriately aimed at children from our platform,” Google said.
More than 2 billion devices worldwide are powered by Google software, with a significant number of those being used by minors. The complaint focuses on alleged misconduct under U.S. laws and regulations.
The attempt to pressure the FTC to open an investigation comes amid an intensifying backlash against Google, Facebook and other companies that make most of their money by using their free services to track people’s interests and whereabouts and then mining that information to sell ads targeted at them.
The angst has raised the specter of Congress drawing up tougher regulations to curb the tech industry’s power and restrict its ability to compile digital dossiers about the people who have become increasingly dependent on its services.
Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island who has been critical of Google, issued a statement supporting the groups seeking an FTC investigation as did Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico.
“It is past time for the Federal Trade Commission to crack down to protect children’s privacy,” Udall said in a statement.
Although the FTC doesn’t typically comment on whether it will investigate issues raised in complaints, it has punished both Google and Apple for what it deemed to be child exploitation in the past.
In 2014, it reached a settlement requiring Google to refund $19 million for allowing apps distributed through its store to charge children for purchases made without parents’ consent. That came after a similar agreement required Apple to refund $32.5 million for in-app purchases made on iPhones, iPads and other devices without parents’ permission.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Featured & Breaking
UGHELLI, Nigeria (AP) — Heavy military deployment, scattered attacks on polling centers and at least eight deaths were reported on Saturday as Nigerians went to...
MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Ukrainian police said 15 officers were injured Saturday in a clash with far-right demonstrators who disrupted a campaign appearance of President...
LONDON (AP) — With tensions escalating, Britain’s House of Commons leader said Saturday that European Union officials need to take seriously British proposals for ending...
"Unless you believe we’re governed by shape-shifting space lizards — your darkest suspicions about how the world operates are likely an underestimate."
(The Intercept)- AS I READ The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, a new book by Salon founder David...