Google is finding itself under the gun again. This time from dozens of consumer-advocacy groups accusing the tech giant of misleading kids and parents about Android apps. These consumer-advocacy groups are asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the company over prohibited targeted ads.
The complaint filed with the FTC says apps within the Family section of Google Play show targeted ads, inappropriate ads, and content that has deceptive marketing tactics. The consumer-advocacy groups say all of this violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. They also assert that many of those apps actually violate Google’s own policies and Google is aware but does not enforce them.
“Since Google receives one-third of the revenue from every app purchased and every purchase made within the app, it is in the company’s interest to ensure that the apps are as lucrative as possible,” the complaint said. “It is crucial that the FTC step in and take strong action in light of Google’s substantial economic incentives for lax enforcement of its DFF (Designed for Families) criteria.”
In response, a Google spokeswoman said, “Apps in our Designed for Families program have to comply with strict policies on content, privacy
andadvertising, and we take action on any policy violations that we find. We take these issues very seriously and continue to work hard to remove any content that is inappropriately aimed at children from our platform.”
The consumer-advocacy groups that filed the complaint include the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy. The groups are targeting Google due to their large offerings of content targeted to children. Among the accusations are some children’s apps containing ads for adult beverages, gambling, and pressure to make in-app purchases.
Last Updated on February 3, 2021.