Apps for kids shouldn't serve deceptive ads, collect personal data, or trick children into making in-app purchases – but Google recommends a slew of "family-friendly" apps that do just that!
Google's Play Store offers a family section full of apps recommended for kids, with age ratings as low as "5 and under." Parents are led to believe that the apps in this section are vetted by Google and safe for children, but now thanks to a groundbreaking complaint by our attorneys at Georgetown's Institute for Public Representation, we know that's not the case. Google routinely recommends apps that illegally collect children's data, interrupt gameplay with deceptive advertising, pressure kids into making in-app purchases, and even model harmful behavior like cleaning your eyes with sharp objects.
Parents should be able to trust that anything recommended "for children" is actually safe for children. By adopting CCFC's Kids' App Store Standards – simple rules that require a human review of each app and ban in-app purchases, unfair advertising, and illegal data collection – Google can make parents' lives easier, and kids' experiences safer.
Why does Google recommend these apps for kids? Profit! App developers target children with deceptive, unfair apps because it's a quick way to make a buck, and Google lets it happen because they get a cut of the cash. With millions of downloads per app, Google is making a fortune off of deceiving families and children.
That's why we're not just asking Google to shape up – we're leading a huge coalition to make sure they do. Today, we filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint signed by 22 consumer advocacy groups, urging the FTC to take action against Google for misleading parents and manipulating kids. Our complaint is making waves already, with coverage in the New York Times, NBC News, and Buzzfeed News. Lawmakers including Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative David N. Cicilline (RI-01) have voiced their support as well.
Google has been profiting off the deception of families for too long. And while we work with policymakers to hold the company accountable, Google needs to hear from you.