CCFC Blog

On July 24, the FTC announced its settlement with Facebook following a 16 month investigation into Facebook's deceptive practices. Below is CCFC Executive Director Josh Golin's statement on the settlement: We agree with dissenting Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter that the FTC's settlement with Facebook is not strong enough. Specifically, we are extremely concerned that this settlement lets Facebook off the hook for violating kids' privacy and manipulating children and teens into making in-app purchases. As Commissioner Chopra noted in his dissent, the FTC has essentially given Facebook ‘a legal shield ... covering a wide range of conduct not addressed in the proposed complaint or settlement.' This shield...
Waterford UPSTART, an online preschool program that CCFC and our allies have repeatedly spoken out against, is launching a major expansion thanks to wealthy private donors. As part of The Audacious Project, a TED-backed initiative that connects powerful private funders with “innovative ideas,” UPSTART could raise tens of millions of dollars on the basis that they’re a “proven” program in kindergarten readiness – despite the fact that 75 minutes isolated on a screen can’t possibly provide four-year-olds with the social, emotional, and physical interaction that they need to learn. And just as CCFC and DEY suggested would be the case, UPSTART plans to use public funds to implement their program across the United States.  UPSTART’s talk at TED...
Last week, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal reported the FTC is planning to take action against YouTube as a result of CCFC and Center for Digital Democracy's multiple complaints against the video giant. But it'll take more than a fine of a few million dollars to change the ways of a multibillion dollar company – so we're asking the FTC to make sure that any action includes penalties and conditions that will actually deter Google from breaking the law and exploiting kids. Read our statements below:  *** “For years, the FTC’s failure to enforce COPPA has left children vulnerable to a host of manipulative data collection and marketing practices. No one has benefited more than...
Mark Bertin, MD
As a developmental pediatrician, I see an increasing number of families swamped by stress and emotion around kids’ screen use. Raising healthy children is hard in the digital era, especially without community standards about kids and screens – when there’s no clear agreement on what’s best, parents are often led to ignore their own (valid!) concerns. But technology isn’t rock and roll music, which some people resisted for no real reason. In my field, we already know technology can negatively impact children’s development, especially if we don’t teach kids to use it wisely.  That’s why I’m excited to support CCFC, whose resources and national advocacy are helping steer kids and families toward a healthier future....
A new CCFC investigation has revealed deeply troubling findings about Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids, including that Amazon keeps children’s data even after parents try to delete it. We’re calling on the FTC to investigate Amazon for this and other blatant violations of children’s privacy law – because parents, not Jeff Bezos, should be in charge of children’s data. Learn more about our findings, and Echo Dot’s privacy problems, here.  *** Today, a coalition of 19 consumer and public health advocates led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate and sanction Amazon for infringing on children’s privacy through its...
This week, CCFC learned that a TED initiative called The Audacious Project is planning to fund an expansion of an online preschool program called UPSTART. But as CCFC and our allies made clear last October, online preschool will only exacerbate educational inequality. CCFC and Defending the Early Years are asking TED and The Audacious Project to postpone funding this well-intentioned but misguided initiative, and to meet with us and other advocates to understand the risks, harms, and failures of screen-based early education.  Our full letter to The Audacious Project is below. For more, please see our press release, our October 2018 Position Statement on Online Preschool, and DEY’s...
This is the year we'll stop marketers from tracking and targeting children online. Senators Ed Markey and Josh Hawley have just proposed the strongest restrictions on marketing to children in more than twenty years. Their bill – which we helped shaped – reads like a CCFC wish list. Among other things, our legislation would: Ban all targeted marketing to children under 13. That means advertisers can't use kids' locations, interests, browsing habits, or anything else about them to target them with ads. Hold companies like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat accountable for profiting off of the millions of underage children that regularly use their sites. Give teens important new privacy...
In the wake of a series of explosive scandals, it's widely expected that Congress will pass new privacy legislation in the coming year. Big Tech lobbyists are flooding Washington to water down any bills that might stop them from exploiting personal data for profit. But we'll be there too, as founding members of Privacy and Digital Rights for All, a coalition of powerful consumer and civil rights advocates calling for real, robust privacy laws.   Unlike other privacy efforts, which are often guided by industry and let lawmakers pat themselves on the back while corporations continue merrily along stealing data, our Framework for Comprehensive Privacy Protection and Digital Rights is driven by the needs of real people – and,...
In January, it was revealed that Facebook knowingly defrauded children and their families out of millions of dollars by intentionally misleading children into making in-app purchases. The company referred to children who unintentionally spent thousands of dollars as “whales,” a casino industry term for high-rollers, and refused to refund unauthorized purchases. Not only did the company not refund these unauthorized charges, they encouraged them. As we wrote at the time, these policies and attitudes toward kids show that Facebook is unfit to make products for children. Now, we’re joining our allies at Common Sense Media, Center for Digital Democracy, and 14 other organizations, asking the FTC to investigate these clearly fraudulent...
Last week, an analysis of hundreds of unsealed court documents by Reveal showed that Facebook had knowingly duped children into making millions of dollars of accidental purchases for years. It's clear that this company only views children as a source of profit, not people. So on Tuesday, January 29th, we sent this letter to Mark Zuckerberg, renewing our demand that he shut down Messenger Kids immediately. Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, One year ago we sent you a letter, signed by more than 100 public health advocates, urging you to discontinue Messenger Kids, Facebook’s first social media app designed specifically for children under the age of 13. Shortly after, we sent you a petition signed by more than 21,000 people urging you to end the...

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