Complaint Lodged Over “Disturbing” Google Kids Apps

Google Kids Apps

A letter of complaint has been sent to the Federal Trade Commission signed by more than 20 organisations.

Google has been accused of distributing “disturbing and potentially dangerous” apps that are targeted toward children.  

More than 20 organisations have written a 99-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission claiming that the tech giant is allowing kids to download apps that contain adult content and questionable advertising.  

These apps, the group says, are available on the children’s section of the Play store.  

Disturbing Content 

Apps available on the Play store depict “activities that could result in serious harm if imitated by children,” the letter reads.  

Examples detailed in the letter include the “Crazy Eye Clinic” app, which allows users to pick out an individual’s eyelashes with tweezers. This game also includes disturbing content, which involves clamping open a patient’s eyes, the letter explained. 

FTC Action 

The claims against Google are being led by two campaign groups, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Both groups have previously criticised Google’s practices.  

They have been joined by a number of other consumer and campaign groups, including Public Citizen, US Public Interest Research Group and Consumer Action.

Read more: Facebook Shared Users’ Private Messages with Third Parties

Earlier this year, the groups contacted the FTC to ask it to investigate YouTube over alleged violations of children’s privacy.  

The FTC has previously punished Google over allegations of child exploitation. In 2014, the organisation forced Google to refund more than £15 million for allowing apps to charge child users for purchases made without the knowledge of their parents.

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Google Responds 

Google released a statement reinforcing its commitment to child safety online. The company explained that it already prohibits advertising aimed at children under the age of 13.  

“Parents want their children to be safe online and we work hard to protect them,” a spokesperson said. “Apps in our Designed for Families program have to comply with strict policies on content, privacy and advertising, and we take action on any policy violations that we find.” 

The statement continued: “We take these issues very seriously and continue to work hard to remove any content that is inappropriately aimed at children from our platform.  

“Our ads policies prohibit advertisers from collecting personal information from, or serving personalised advertising to, users under 13 or the applicable age in their country.”  

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