Friday, December 09, 2022

FTC Chairman Khan plans important work on online children’s data privacy

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The head of the Federal Trade Commission says the agency is pushing for a strong agenda of actions and policies to help protect the privacy of children online.

Ongoing work will include strict enforcement of a long-standing law governing children’s online privacy and monitoring the algorithms used by social media platforms targeting young people.

Leena Khan, who headed the consumer-protection agency for a year, said, “Children’s privacy is extremely important and we want to make sure we do everything we can to protect children’s privacy and protect them from data misuse. are trying.” , He spoke in an interview on Zoom with The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The concern of parents across the country about the impact of social media on children has deepened. Former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen stuns Congress And the public fell for last when it brought to light internal company research showing the apparently serious harm to some teens from Facebook’s Instagram platform.

Senators questioned YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat executives after those revelations What are they doing to ensure the safety of young users in the wake of suicides and other harms caused to teens who are responsible for their use of the platform by their parents.

The recent wave of mass shootings has also exposed the power of social media and its impact on youth.

The FTC recently warned it would crack down on education-technology companies if they illegally survey children for online learning. The agency said it is against the law for companies to force parents to “surrender their children’s privacy rights so that they can do online schoolwork or attend class remotely.”

Khan said on Wednesday the FTC heard complaints from parents that when the pandemic hit 2020, they suddenly had to make this choice.

So-called edtech companies have apps and websites that are used by hundreds of thousands of students in school districts across the country. The Children’s Online Privacy Act prohibits companies from requiring that children provide more information than is necessary, and restricts the use of students’ personal data for marketing purposes.

Among many other enforcement actions, in March the FTC required WW International, formerly known as Weight Watchers, to remove illegally collected information from children under the age of 13, as well as With to reduce algorithms developed by the company’s Weight Loss App for Kids. as eight. The company also paid a fine of $1.5 million.

President Joe Biden shocked official Washington nearly a year ago when he installed Khan, an energetic critic of Big Tech, was teaching law as head of the FTC. It signaled a tougher government stance towards giants Facebook (its parent is now called Meta Platform), Google, Amazon and Apple, which are already under pressure from Congress, state attorneys general and European regulators.

At 33 years old, Khan is the youngest chairman in the 107-year history of the FTC, an independent agency with five commissioners and nearly 1,200 employees. The agency’s mandate is broad – it regulates competition and consumer protection as well as digital privacy – and under Khan it has been proactive on every front. Khan was an unorthodox choice for Biden, having no administrative experience or agency knowledge other than a stint for part of 2018 as a legal advisor to one of the five commissioners.

However, it carried an intellectual load, which translated into political traction. Khan burst onto the antitrust scene in 2017 with his largely scholarly work as “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” a Yale law student. It helped lay the foundation for a new way of looking at antitrust law beyond the effect of large company market dominance on consumer prices. This ideology appears to have had a huge impact on Biden.

During Khan’s tenure, the FTC has intensified its antitrust attack against Facebook in federal court., accusing the social network giant of abusing its market dominance to scuttle competition, and is widely believed to be investigating competition at e-commerce giant Amazon. According to experts, potential areas of focus are Amazon’s cloud-computing business and its recent $8.4 billion acquisition of movie studio MGM., Last year Amazon asked Khan to step down from an antitrust investigation into the company due to previous public criticism of its market power. The investigation is reportedly being led by the agency’s deputy director of competition John Newman.

In interviews, Khan generally addressed the importance of Big Tech antitrust cases as she is neither confirming nor denying the Amazon investigation.

“These are products and services that Americans use and rely on in their daily lives, and we want to make sure that incumbents are not suppressing and crowding out competitors,” she said.

When companies grow by buying out competitors and abusing their market position, she said, “they can become too big in some ways to care — and start imposing all kinds of terms and conditions of contracts on consumers.” Huh.”

, . Follow Marcy Gordon on

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