Regulators and industry watchdogs, concerned that children are
becoming more vulnerable to new technologies and sales techniques
used by marketers, are taking a stronger stance against practices
that violate children's privacy and marketing regulations.
Last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought its first
action under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
(COPPA) against a mobile advertising network, InMobi, alleging that
InMobi violated COPPA by collecting persistent identifiers (such as
cookies) to serve children geotargeted advertisements. The FTC will
continue bringing actions against websites and apps that violate
COPPA, particularly if they collect persistent identifiers from
children to serve behaviorally targeted advertising without
verifiable parental consent.
The New York Attorney General recently resolved allegations,
resulting in fines and remedial measures, that Viacom, Mattel,
Hasbro and JumpStart allowed ad networks and advertisers to track
children's activities on their websites in violation of COPPA.
This action is likely to spur other state attorneys general to
increase monitoring of websites and online services directed to
children and to take similar enforcement measures.
Self-regulators and advocacy groups will continue to be active,
particularly with respect to child-directed influencer marketing.
The Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU), the
children's arm of self-regulation, brought an action last year
against EvanTube, a popular YouTube channel featuring a boy
unboxing and reviewing toys provided by sponsoring advertisers.
According to CARU, EvanTube did not sufficiently disclose to
children that the videos were advertising, and now EvanTube's
videos must include a prominent audio disclosure at the beginning
of each sponsored video stating that it is
Additionally, several advocacy groups recently petitioned the
FTC to impose stricter regulations for child-directed online
influencers, such as EvanTube, arguing that children are less
capable of understanding that influencer content is commercial
advertising. These advocates believe that such influencer marketing
is inherently deceptive, even with appropriate disclosures.
Although the FTC may not act on these petitions due to First
Amendment concerns, advocacy groups will continue to generate
headlines by filing complaints against influencer campaigns that
arguably are directed to children.
Regulatory authorities will bring COPPA actions against
websites and mobile apps that collect geolocation data from
children or serve children behaviorally targeted advertisements
without parental consent.
As the Internet of Things develops, regulators will also focus
on the privacy implications of smart toys and smart TVs that
collect personal information from children to ensure compliance
Self-regulators and advocacy groups will continue to scrutinize
influencer marketing directed to children to ensure that children
know whether their content is paid advertising.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
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