On Friday, October 8, three Democratic lawmakers wrote to the Federal Trade Commission, urging the FTC to ensure that big tech companies are complying with privacy policies designed to protect children and teens online. The letter comes days after a former Facebook employee testified before Congress about the platform’s effects on young people.
In their letter to FTC chair Lina Khan, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass), Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla), and Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass) cited recent policy changes made by social media companies designed to protect young users and urged the FTC “to use all its authority to ensure that these powerful companies comply with their new policies, to hold them accountable if they fail to do so, and to prioritize the protection of children’s and teen’s privacy.”
For example, over the summer, Instagram and YouTube announced policy changes intended to protect children and teens, including defaulting accounts to private rather than public, disabling push notifications at night, and limiting targeted advertising. These policy changes were seemingly in response to a recent shift in the children’s privacy landscape following the UK’s adoption of the Age Appropriate Design Code, or Children’s Code—a set of 15 standards that the ICO (the UK’s data protection watchdog group) expects websites and apps to follow. The Children’s Code requires companies that process the personal data of UK children to minimize their data collection and use, put in place protective defaults, and improve transparency. The Children’s Code fully came into effect on September 1, 2021, when the 12-month grace period for compliance with the code expired.
"We therefore encourage you to use every tool at your disposal to vigilantly scrutinize companies’ data practices and ensure that they abide by their public commitments”