Children's Ad Watchdog Wants FTC To Question Ed-Tech Companies About Privacy

Given the COVID-19-pandemic-fueled explosion of web use by children, the Federal Trade Commission should question distance learning companies about their privacy practices, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the BBB National Programs said Monday.

The self-regulatory watchdog is calling for the FTC to ask ed-tech companies a host of questions about their privacy policies -- including practices regarding data retention, monitoring of third parties that collect data, and whether they separate data collected from people 13 and over from young children.

The group's request comes after six bipartisan U.S. senators urged the FTC to subpoena media and ed-tech companies for information about their data practices.



“The millions of children in quarantine due to the novel coronavirus outbreak are increasingly relying on technology for education and entertainment, and with that greater reliance comes the need for corporate responsibility,” BBB National Programs’ vice president Dona Fraser stated Monday. “Now that this bipartisan group of U.S. Senators has demanded that education technology companies practice such responsibility, the FTC should follow up on that request.”

At the same time, Fraser expressed a fear that new subpoenas by the FTC -- which would be issued under the agency's “6(b)” authority -- could delay the agency's ongoing review of the rules implementing the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

“I am concerned that requests for 6(b) orders might slow down or derail the work the FTC has already begun in this review, the results of which are critical to CARU’s role in monitoring companies’ child-directed advertising and data collection practices,” Fraser stated.

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