CDD commends FTC on today's Apple decision designed to protect digital consumers

“The Federal Trade Commission’s investigation of Apple sheds light on a growing practice that poses risks to children and families,” commented Jeff Chester, Executive Director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “Children are spending increasing amounts of time with mobile apps, generating potentially huge profits for the rapidly expanding gaming and app industries. In-app purchasing is becoming the dominant business model in many online games and other children’s entertainment content on mobile phones, tablets and gaming devices. Yet the techniques used to trigger these purchases are, in many cases, unfair and deceptive, taking advantage of children’s vulnerabilities. CDD commends today’s action by the commission. However, the agency should conduct a broad investigation of emerging techniques that target children on mobile, gaming and other platforms, and identify a set of industry-wide fair marketing guidelines.”

“Today’s decision should be viewed as a first step in a wider initiative to develop clear government rules for protecting children and their families across a spectrum of digital devices,” said Dr. Kathryn Montgomery, Professor of Communication at American University, who led the campaign to enact the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). “Just as we have principles and rules for safeguarding children’s privacy online, we need a policy for protecting young people and their families from covert and manipulative in-app marketing practices,” she explained. “Requiring app developers to secure informed parental consent before in-app purchases can be made will only address part of the problem. We need a comprehensive set of rules that take into account the cognitive and other developmental needs of children and their vulnerabilities in the digital marketplace.”