Attorney General Frosh Asks FTC to Strengthen Online Protections for Children

News Release, Office of the Maryland Attorney General

BALTIMORE, MD (December 9, 2019) – Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and a bipartisan coalition of 25 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.

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 (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, although 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 biometric data like faceprints used to unlock consumers’ cellphones, health data from internet-connected smartwatches, 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 digital media platforms (e.g., Apple, YouTube) to skirt COPPA’s requirements.

“The personal information that tech companies can acquire through web and mobile applications has expanded since the COPPA was passed, and the regulations governing that law need to be updated accordingly,” said Attorney General Frosh.  “Any loopholes and exceptions in the regulations effectively incentivize tech companies to collect and monetize the personal data of minors.  Big tech shouldn’t be allowed to use ‘education’ as a justification for collecting children’s personal information without parental consent.”

Joining Maryland in this letter are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.


The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at davidhiggins@southernmarylandchronicle.com

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II




© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.