Statement on the FTC’s Crackdown on Child Surveillance

For Immediate Release
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Accountable Tech Co-Founder Jesse Lehrich issued the following statement Thursday in response to a new policy statement from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on ratcheting up enforcement of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA):

“With today’s unanimously approved policy statement, Chair Khan and the FTC have sent a powerful message that they will use every tool at their disposal to safeguard our kids from exploitative tech companies. Conditioning children’s access to education on their submission to corporate surveillance isn’t just abhorrent; it’s illegal.

While we desperately need new laws to protect young people online and curtail surveillance capitalism, it’s encouraging to see this FTC unleashing the full force of its existing authority to forge progress. Today’s statement comes on the heels of the Commission taking the unprecedented step of ordering a company to destroy algorithms derived from children’s personal data that they’d collected illegally.

By prioritizing enforcement of COPPA’s broad prohibition against conditioning a child’s participation in any activity on data collection, along with strict data use and retention prohibitions – and putting remedies like algorithmic disgorgement on the table – the FTC is finally threatening real consequences for those in the business of surveilling children. This is no replacement for Congress passing meaningful legislation to safeguard the best interests of kids and teens in the digital world, but it is a welcome step forward.”