December 2016

Toys”R”Us stops selling spying doll: Help CCFC build a stronger future for children; And the TOADY goes to…; Keeping digital billboards off school grounds; Pokemon GO lures kids to Starbucks for super sweet drinks; CCFC joins Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition; Recommended reading and listening

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In this issue:

  • Toys”R”Us stops selling spying doll
  • Help CCFC build a stronger future for children
  • And the TOADY goes to…
  • Keeping digital billboards off school grounds
  • Pokemon GO lures kids to Starbucks for super sweet drinks
  • CCFC joins Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition
  • Recommended reading and listening

Toys”R”Us stops selling spying doll

This month, CCFC was part of a coordinated global action to stop Internet-connected toys from spying on children. In the US, we joined the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumers Union, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center in filing a Federal Trade Commission complaint against the makers of My Friend Cayla and I-Que, two toys with serious privacy and security violations. At the same time, our colleagues in Europe filed similar complaints with the EU and seven member states. This cross-continental partnership is an exciting first for CCFC.

These two toys collect voice recordings of children without obtaining parental consent, which is a clear violation of children’s privacy law. The recordings, which may contain sensitive and personal information, are then shared with unnamed third parties. They’re also easily hacked, as you can see in this short video

Our efforts have garnered headlines around the world—and already made a significant difference. In the US, Toys”R”Us has pulled the dolls from stores, and many toy sellers in Europe have discontinued sales. Read more about our efforts to protect children from spying toys in the Boston Globe and in this detailed breakdown from the Consumerist.

Help CCFC build a stronger future for children

We recently received a heartwarming note from a first-time CCFC donor named Lynn: “It was the wake of the recent election that put making a donation at the forefront of our minds,” she wrote. “Like many, we are concerned that it will become even easier for commercial interests to take priority over the public good. We feel a duty to help fund organizations like CCFC that are dedicated to both the public good as well as helping to set appropriate boundaries on commercial interests.”

We are grateful to friends like Lynn who understand that CCFC’s work is more important than ever. If you’d also like to support us, please visit our website.

And the TOADY goes to…

The votes are in for CCFC’s 2016 TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) Award! This year’s honor goes to Lulu's 11-Piece Makeup Set by Pink Fizz, which appalled 33% of voters. Our partners at New Moon Girls nominated this toxic, skin-irritating “toy” as the worst of the year. The Game of Life: Empire, which promotes brands such as Burger King and Nickelodeon, was runner-up at 17%. Thanks to all six advocacy organizations who partnered with us by nominating a toy and making the case for why each embodied a troubling trend. Together, we are helping families avoid toys that stifle creativity and undermine kids’ well-being.

Keeping digital billboards off school grounds

Last month, we reported on CCFC’s opposition to plans to install huge digital billboards on school grounds in two states. In Michigan, we partnered with Scenic Michigan to oppose a zoning change which would allow digital billboards on public school property. Unfortunately, that proposal was approved by the Michigan Senate, so we've sent a letter to Governor Rick Snyder urging him to veto the bill. 

News is better from Los Angeles, where we asked the LA Board of Education to vote against plans for a billboard in front of Hollywood High. We’re glad to report that the proposal has been defeated. As explained in this LA Times editorial, advertising in school, where kids can't turn it of, carries the implicit endorsement of the school and faculty and shouldn't be allowed. And bright billboards pose a safety risk by distracting passing drivers, including inexperienced teens. 

Pokemon GO lures kids to Starbucks for super sweet drinks

Last summer, when the augmented reality game Pokemon GO was launched, all McDonald’s in Japan became Pokemon GO “hot spots” and enticed kids with Pokemon Happy Meals. Now, 7,800 Starbucks stores in the United States have become PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms, and will serve a new Pokemon GO-themed Frappuccino. The purple drink is high in fat and calories—with the equivalent of 21 teaspoons of sugar! We've sent a letter to Niantic, along with 7,300 petition signatures, asking them to exclude children under 13 from sponsored locations when playing the game. If you haven’t yet, please sign the petition!

CCFC joins Canada’s Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition

We are pleased to be the first organization outside of Canada to join the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition and endorse the Ottawa Principles, which call for a prohibition of all food marketing to children 16 and younger. The Coalition is led by Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Childhood Obesity Foundation. Their members share our view that all food marketing undermines children’s healthy development, regardless of the product being advertised, and we look forward to working with them. 

Recommended reading and listening: