FTC complaint says YouTube should be fined billions for harvesting children's data

10 Abril, 2018, 16:24 | Author: Enrique Watson
  • YouTube illegally collects data on children, say child protection groups

The advocacy groups say tracking of these videos would require parental consent and notification.

Google's violations are particularly egregious.

The advocates contend that YouTube has collected data from nearly 25 million children and note that under the law the FTC could fine Google as much as $41,484 per individual violation. The coalition argues that the Alphabet -owned site had "actual knowledge" they are trafficking personal information of children under 13 and, as a result, are breaching COPPA laws.

"It looks as if (the FTC) could also be extra reinvigorated and able to take these points significantly", mentioned Josh Golin, director of the Marketing campaign for a Industrial-Free Childhood, which drafted the grievance together with the Heart for Digital Democracy and a Georgetown College regulation clinic.

YouTube's privacy policy suggests that a range of information including device identifiers, geolocation tags, and telephone numbers may be collected.

YouTube makes no effort to provide direct parental notice. Under the law, companies have to notify parents and get their consent before collecting data on children. The kid-friendly platform filters out inappropriate content and features educational cartoons and toy unboxing videos. The illegal activity has been going on "for many years", it says.

Amanda Chaon, a Senior Digital Media Strategist at Click Rain, says YouTube and other sites like it need to be more upfront about their policies involving personal information.

The complaint estimates YouTube inappropriately collected data on 23 million children over "a period of years".

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YouTube's terms of service state that the website is not intended for children.

YouTube is being accused of collecting kids' information defying local laws which is also in gross misuse of the site's vast popularity among kids even as young as 6 year old.

The complainants state that among the most popular channels on YouTube are those directed at children, including ChuChuTV Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs with 15.9m subscribers and more than 10bn video views and LittleBabyBum with 14.6m subscribers and 14bn views. Major advertisers pay Google a premium to guarantee that their ads will be placed on these popular YouTube channels. They have also released a YouTube Kids app to allow children to interact with age-appropriate content. "Through the YouTube Partner Program, YouTube and creators split revenues from advertisements served on the creators' videos".

One of the most popular YouTube channels, Ryan ToysReview, has 13 million subscribers and more than 20 billion views.

As the platform matures, it seems that more and more parents are willing to give their kids tablets, let them play with smartphones, and allow them to engage with new technology in general. The main app and website are meant for users 13 years of age and older. If proven and if the charge of violating the protection act were upheld, that could have enormous implications for Google. With awareness and love comes usage.

"They created a successful model monetising kids' data on YouTube and really did not want to think about the consequences", he said. The frequency of YouTube engagement continues to rise.

The complaint alleges that persistent markers, which identify users over time across different services, may also be of note in relation to the alleged flouting of child protection laws.

Consumer organizations and advocates for children are filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), accusing Google of violating kids' digital privacy through YouTube, The Associated Press reported Monday.


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