Attorney General Balderas Calls on FTC To Strengthen Online Protections for Children

For Immediate Release:
December 9, 2019
Contact: Matt Baca — (505) 270-7148

Albuquerque, NM—Attorney General Balderas and a bipartisan coalition of twenty-five State
Attorneys General today submitted a comment letter to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”)
asking the agency to strengthen its rules prohibiting websites, mobile applications, and other
digital marketing companies from collecting personal information from children under the age of
13 and using that information to track children across the internet.
“My number one priority is protecting children and keeping them safe online from predators and
anyone who seeks to track them without their consent,” said Attorney General Balderas. “While
we continue to sue the largest tech companies in the world for online privacy violations, we are
calling on the federal government to strengthen protections to keep New Mexican children safe.”
Many websites and mobile applications collect personal information from users, including
geolocation information, browser histories, search histories, voice recordings, and more. In 1996,
Congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (or “COPPA”) prohibiting this
type of data collection from children under the age of 13. Both the FTC and all State Attorneys
General are empowered to enforce COPPA, though only the FTC is empowered to issue
regulations based on COPPA.
Among other things, the Attorneys General are urging the FTC to expand its definitions of
personal information to include things like faceprints used to unlock consumers’ cellphones,
health data from internet-connected smart watches, and kids’ genetic information. The letter also
urges the FTC to clamp down on companies that embed code in children’s mobile applications
and collect data in order to serve children behavioral advertising, and to examine how the rules
apply to school-issued laptops that are “free” so long as companies get to collect information
from the students using them. Further, the attorneys general urged the FTC not to create
exceptions to the rule that would allow massive websites like YouTube to skirt COPPA’s
Joining Attorney General Balderas in this letter are Connecticut, Delaware, the District of
Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

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