IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Senators urge FTC to enforce child privacy laws

Lawmakers wrote to the FTC Commissioner, asking her to enforce new child protection measures

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representatives Kathy Castor (FL-14) and Lori Trahan (MA-03) today wrote to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ask it to use its powers to ensure that large online platform operators handle children's privacy more responsibly. 

The Senators want the FTC to enforce policies outlined in the UK's Age Appropriate Design Code (AADC). The Code, released by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in September 2020, came into effect last month. It dictates 15 principles that online services firms need to follow in order to better protect children's privacy on the web. 

The AADC states that providers of online services to children should work in the child’s best interests and offer privacy policy information in language suited to the child's age. It forbids service providers from using data in ways that are detrimental to their wellbeing and bans the use of “nudge” techniques that encourage children to give up their privacy. It also enforces default high privacy settings and disabling of geolocation functions. 

The Code, which also applies to connected toys and devices, is not a law. Still, the ICO takes it into account when evaluating companies' compliance with regulations such as GDPR. Violation of those regulations, which the UK government is pressing to reform, can carry financial penalties. 

The letter highlighted several steps that technology companies took in response to the code. Instagram introduced private accounts for young people by default to provide more protection from predators and some advertising, the senators pointed out. YouTube defaulted to making uploads private and turning off location history for users under 18. TikTok disabled messaging for users under 16. 

"We write to urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to use all its authority to ensure that these powerful companies comply with their new policies, to hold them accountable if they fail to do so, and to prioritize the protection of children’s and teen’s privacy," the letter said. The senators suggested using Section Five of the FTC Act, which forbids deceptive practices, to enforce the commitments. 

"These policy changes are no substitute for congressional action on children’s privacy, but they are important steps towards making the internet safer for young users, the letter added. 

The letter follows a ground-breaking testimony by whistleblower Frances Haugen before Congress this week. Haugen accused Instagram owner Facebook of disregarding teens' mental health and putting profit before people. 

Featured Resources

Four strategies for building a hybrid workplace that works

All indications are that the future of work is hybrid, if it's not here already

Free webinar

The digital marketer’s guide to contextual insights and trends

How to use contextual intelligence to uncover new insights and inform strategies

Free Download

Ransomware and Microsoft 365 for business

What you need to know about reducing ransomware risk

Free Download

Building a modern strategy for analytics and machine learning success

Turning into business value

Free Download

Recommended

Mastering endpoint security implementation
Security

Mastering endpoint security implementation

18 May 2022
The Total Economic Impact™ of Apple Mac in Enterprise: M1 update
Whitepaper

The Total Economic Impact™ of Apple Mac in Enterprise: M1 update

12 May 2022
Dell Technologies World 2022: Dell unveils fastest storage architecture in company history
Server & storage

Dell Technologies World 2022: Dell unveils fastest storage architecture in company history

4 May 2022
Dell Technologies World 2022: Dell unveils security offerings for major cloud providers
public cloud

Dell Technologies World 2022: Dell unveils security offerings for major cloud providers

3 May 2022

Most Popular

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack
hacking

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack

16 May 2022
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

13 May 2022
Google Russia files for bankruptcy, ends operations in the country
Business operations

Google Russia files for bankruptcy, ends operations in the country

19 May 2022