Georgetown’s IPR Tech & Communications Clinic today filed a complaint with the FTC, requesting an investigation into whether Google's marketing of apps directed to children in the Google Play Store violates the FTC Act’s prohibition on deceptive and unfair practices.
The filing was submitted on behalf of IPR’s clients The Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood and Center for Digital Democracy, and was joined by 20 other public interest advocacy groups. Joining groups included Public Citizen, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
“Prompted by several recent academic studies finding that many Play Store apps Google identifies as expressly suitable for children are not actually appropriate for them, we conducted a review that reflected similar findings,” the filing states. “Thus, we ask the FTC to investigate whether Google is misrepresenting to parents that the apps in the Family section of the Play Store are child-appropriate when they are not, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.”
Georgetown Law students Bridget O'Connell, Allegra Kauffman, and Rachel Johns helped draft the filing, under the leadership of Georgetown IPR Fellow and Staff Attorney Lindsey Barrett (L’17) and IPR Director Professor Angela Campbell. The filing is part of IPR’s long-time work advocating for compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This fall, the Institute and IPR together hosted a conference on “COPPA at 20: Protecting Children in the New Digital Era”, which featured Professor Campbell alongside other experts and Georgetown Law faculty.