FTC Works With Child Advocacy Groups, Claim McDonalds And Other Websites Violate Child Privacy Laws

The Federal Trade Commission working alongside seventeen different child advocacy groups have teamed up against several corporations who have been collecting children’s information without parental consent. Other companies included in the lawsuit are Subway, General Mills, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon.

The groups claims that all firms included in their complaint have directly and maliciously violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Each website on the list features brand-related online games that ask for email addresses for participants and their friends.

Laura Moy, attorney for the Center for Digital Democracy, says of the companies efforts:

“Under the law, they can’t just collect email addresses from kids and send them marketing material directly. So they are embedding messages saying, ‘play this game and share it with your friends,’ in order to target the friends.”


The complaint not only calls for action against infringing company’s but also asks that the FTC review outdated COPPA legislation. The groups says it would like the government agency to “address troubling new marketing techniques engaged in by some of these websites, such as placing third-party cookies on children’s computers to facilitate behavior targeting and collecting and storing children’s photographs without parental notice and consent.”

COPPA was enacted in 1998 and directly forbids the gathering of a minor’s personal information without direct parental consent. Websites geared towards children are also not allowed to collect browser cookies or geo-based location information.

The FTC has already announced revised plans for COPPA which came about after a one-year investigation into the outdated bill.