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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Children's privacy advocates on Thursday cited the coronavirus pandemic to urge the Federal Trade Commission to force companies like Google and Disney to turn over details on how they gather and use data to target kids.

The big picture: The groups argue that with more children at home streaming video and relying on online learning, it's vital the agency understands digital media's and ed tech companies' collection and use of data.

Details: The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Center for Digital Democracy said in a letter that they want the FTC to subpoena tech and media companies to better understand their practices before it makes any changes to how it enforces the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

  • Potential targets for the study that the groups identify include: Google, Disney, Comcast, AT&T, and ed-tech companies Blackboard and Edmodo.
  • The agency has been reviewing its implementation of COPPA, the 1998 law that empowers the FTC to punish companies that violate children's privacy.
  • The FTC can order companies to answer questions about business practices under what's known as its 6(b) authority.
  • The groups previously asked the FTC to begin gathering such information in December.
“With schools closed across the country, American families are more dependent than ever on digital media to educate and occupy their children. It’s now urgent that the FTC use its full authority to shed light on the business models of the ed tech and children’s digital media industries so we can understand what Big Tech knows about our children and what they are doing with that information."
— Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

Google declined to comment on the request. The other companies named in the letter didn't comment.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.