Monday, May 12, 2008

The Struggle Over Kids, Mobile Devices, and Regulation

Kids are usually more facile and fearless with technology than their parents -- quick to click first and ask questions later. A mobile phone that gives them easy access to content and purchasing power makes them easy prey for aggressive marketers.

-Jonathan Liebowitz, Federal Trade Commissioner

Speaking at the start of a two-day FTC forum on mobile devices, Liebowitz said the FTC intends to take enforcement action agtainst deceptive or unfair content offers. "As an example, Mr. Leibowitz pointed to SMS text-messaging offers from marketers that do not clearly disclose the costs for using the service." Activists are pushing for regulations to put companies on notice that mobile devices will not be vehicles for fraud. By contrast, marketing and media executives seem to be worried that, as with other media, specific concern about children might be merely the easiest way to legitimate regulation of advertising on mobile devices. They argue that the FTC should hold off from any rules until it is clear that problems are emerging. "The mobile market is finally becoming a platform for commercial services," they say, and regulations will hinder its development.

In Ira Teinowitz, "FTC on Watch Against Wireless Ripoffs," Advertising Age, May 7, 2008

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