YouTube Fined $170M for Violating Kids' Privacy

Google's video site accused of collecting kids' data without parental consent
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 4, 2019 12:42 PM CDT
YouTube Fined $170M for Violating Kids' Privacy
This March 20, 2018, file photo shows the YouTube app on an iPad in Baltimore.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Google's video site YouTube has been fined $170 million to settle allegations it collected children's personal data without their parents' consent, the AP reports. The Federal Trade Commission fined Google $136 million, and the company will pay an additional $34 million to New York state to resolve similar allegations. The fine is the largest the agency has leveled against Google, although it is tiny compared with the $5 billion fine the FTC imposed against Facebook this year for privacy violations. The FTC has been investigating YouTube for the way it handles the data of kids under 13. Young children are protected by a federal law that requires parental consent before companies can collect and share their personal information. YouTube has said its service is intended for ages 13 and older, although younger kids commonly watch videos on the site and many popular YouTube channels feature cartoons or sing-a-longs made for children.

The FTC's complaint details Google's mixed messages about who the site is geared for: "YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients" including Hasbro and Mattel, FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement. Yet when it came to complying with the law protecting children's privacy, he said, "the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids. There's no excuse for YouTube's violations of the law." A coalition of advocacy groups that last year helped trigger the FTC's investigation said in a joint statement Wednesday that the fine, which still needs to be approved by a federal court, will reduce the amount of behavioral advertising targeting children. But they say it doesn't go far enough to hold Google accountable. Android Police has an overview of changes Google is making in the wake of the fine, including no longer running personalized ads on children's content and reducing data collection for anyone watching children's content.

(Read more YouTube stories.)

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