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Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A collection of 31 advocacy groups is pressing the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to dig into how digital media companies advertise to children and collect their data.

The big picture: The request for the FTC to use its subpoena authority to probe so-called kidtech companies comes as the agency considers updates to how it implements a children's online privacy law.

Driving the news: The coalition, which includes the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, argues the FTC must examine data collection and digital marketing practices before it changes how it enforces the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

  • Possible targets for the FTC study include Google, Disney, Viacom, Adobe, TikTok, Twitch and AT&T's Warner Media.
  • "As kids are spending more time than ever on digital devices, we need the full power of the law to protect them from predatory data collection — but we can't protect children from Big Tech business models if we don't know how those models truly work," Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, said in a statement.
  • The FTC can order companies to answer questions about business practices under what's known as its 6(b) authority.

Context: The FTC made changes to its COPPA rule in 2013 to take into account how children were using the internet, and expanded the definition of children's personal information to include cookies that track activity online.

  • The commission usually reviews its rules every 10 years, but this summer announced it was launching an early review of COPPA because of rapid changes in technology.
  • Child advocates have expressed concern the early review might lead to weakened rules.

What's next: The groups will press the FTC commissioners to launch the data practices study.

  • Republican FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson has already said she supports such a review, as well as an expanded look at data practices.
  • The FTC's deadline for comments on changes to COPPA is Dec. 9.

Go deeper

Biden headed to the Hill as Democrats struggle to reach deal on spending bills

President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leave a House Democratic Caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday morning will meet with the House Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill to provide an update about his Build Back Better agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure deal, according to a White House official.

Driving the news: The meeting comes as Democrats struggle to reach a deal on the spending bills. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN on Sunday that Democrats were planning to reach an agreement on the infrastructure package this week, before Biden's departure to Europe, which is slated for later on Thursday.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
45 mins ago - Economy & Business

Why it's so hard to tax wealth

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The wealth tax that wasn't a wealth tax isn't even a tax, now. The Democrats had a meticulously constructed 107-page proposal to pay for a large chunk of their spending plans with a tax on billionaires, but it died ignobly on Wednesday, the same day it was unveiled.

Why it matters: The dream of a wealth tax will never die as it so neatly generates revenue by reducing inequality. But there are three main reasons why that dream is likely to remain just a dream for the foreseeable future.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

Public health messaging lessons for the next pandemic

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

"Be first, be right, be credible" is the mantra of public health experts in a crisis. It's difficult to argue that the health community has regularly managed to be any of those three during COVID-19.

Why it matters: A pandemic isn't just a medical emergency — it's also a communications emergency. The U.S. public health establishment, hamstrung by bad data and political interference, has struggled with the latter.