Senators Markey, Udall, Blumenthal Call for FTC Investigation into Manipulative Marketing in Children’s Apps

Washington (November 13, 2018) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch an investigation into new evidence of manipulative marketing practices in apps directed at children. A new study recently published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics reveals numerous instances of children’s games using advertising techniques that appear to constitute unfair and deceptive practices under Section V of the FTC Act. In their letter, the Senators highlight evidence of children’s games disguising advertisements, as well as making advertisements integral to games themselves; games using characters to coerce children into making in-app purchases; children’s apps being marketed as free when they actually require additional spending in order to play; and children’s apps characterizing themselves as educational, when they are in fact saturated with advertising.  

 

“The FTC has a statutory obligation to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive advertising practices. That responsibility is all the more urgent when the potential victims of such practices are children,” write the Senators in their letter to the five FTC commissioners. “As parents increasingly permit kids to engage in online games and apps for entertainment and fun, it is imperative to ensure that these playtime options are compliant with existing laws.”

 

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.

 

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