Fairplay & CDD Statement on FTC vs EPIC Games
By: Jeff Chester | Dec 19 2022
Josh Golin, executive director, Fairplay:
The FTC’s landmark settlement against Epic Games is an enormous step forward towards creating a safer, less manipulative internet for children and teens. Not only is the Commission holding Epic accountable for violating COPPA by illegally collecting the data of millions of under 13-year-olds, but the settlement is also a shot across the bow against game makers who use unfair practices to drive in-game purchases by young people. The settlement rightly recognizes not only that unfair monetization practices harm young people financially, but that design choices used to drive purchases subject young people to a wide array of dangers, including cyberbullying and predation.
Today’s breakthrough settlement underscores why it is so critical that Congress pass the privacy protections for children and teens currently under consideration for the Omnibus bill. These provisions give teens privacy rights for the first time, address unfair monetization by prohibiting targeted advertising, and empower regulators by creating a dedicated youth division at the FTC.
Jeff Chester, executive director, Center for Digital Democracy:
Through this settlement with EPIC Games using its vital power to regulate unfair business practices, the FTC has extended long-overdue and critically important online protections for teens. This tells online marketers that from now on, teenagers cannot be targeted using unfair and manipulative tactics designed to take advantage of their young age and other vulnerabilities.
Kids should also have their data privacy rights better respected through this enforcement of the federal kids data privacy law (COPPA). Gaming is a “wild west” when it comes to its data gathering and online marketing tactics, placing young people among the half of the US population who play video games at especially greater risk. While today’s FTC action creates new safeguards for young people, Congress has a rare opportunity to pass legislation this week ensuring all kids and teens have strong digital safeguards, regardless of what online service they use.