Google will pay a record $170 million fine over accusations by the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General office of earning a huge profit on YouTube by collecting children’s personal data without the consent of their parents.
The settlement deal, announced Wednesday by the attorney general’s office, states that Google and YouTube will pay the FTC $136 million and New York state $34 million for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
This is the largest fine FTC has imposed since the US Congress approved the law in 1998.
“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said.
“Yet when it came to complying with COPPA, the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids.”
US law requires that websites targeting children get the parents’ consent to collect data of users younger than 13.
The authorities claim that YouTube collected personal data of targeted children without parents’ consent via online cookies.
“Google and YouTube knowingly and illegally monitored, tracked, and served targeted ads to young children just to keep advertising dollars rolling in,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
“These companies put children at risk and abused their power, which is why we are imposing major reforms to their practices and making them pay one of the largest settlements for a privacy matter in US history.”
YouTube said in a statement: “From its earliest days, YouTube has been a site for people over 13, but with a boom in family content and the rise of shared devices, the likelihood of children watching without supervision has increased.
“Starting in about four months, we will treat data from anyone watching children’s content on YouTube as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user.”
The website will stop publishing personalized adverts for children and will disable the comments and notifications for these videos.
YouTube recommended parents use its separate application YouTube Kids to allow children younger than 13 years old to use the channel on their own.
The settlement also requires YouTube to “develop, implement, and maintain a system for channel owners to identify their child-directed content on the YouTube platform so that YouTube can ensure it is complying” with the law. EFE