YouTube is violating a law that protects kids, groups allege

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April 9, 2018
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YouTube packs an excessive amount of kid-friendly content and there’s no doubt in it. But the child, consumer, and privacy advocacy groups are claiming YouTube illegally collects data about under-age viewers. They want YouTube to change how it handles content for children and pay a fine up to “tens of billions” of dollars for allegedly profiting off young viewers.

As of now, the groups are expected to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The relevant federal law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, requires website operators to obtain parents’ permission when collecting personal data about children younger than 13.

The complaint claims that a significant portion of the popular content on YouTube is designed for kids, whose personal information—including IP address, geolocation, and persistent identifiers used to track users across sites—is unlawfully collected by Google and then used to target ads.

In response to the matter YouTube has said;

“We will read the complaint thoroughly and evaluate if there are things we can do to improve. Because YouTube is not for children, we’ve invested significantly in the creation of the YouTube Kids app to offer an alternative specifically designed for children.”

The kid-centric YouTube Kids app, launched in 2015, offers more parental controls but is not widely used — and uses the same videos and channels that kids can also find on the regular YouTube service.

Although it’s not clear if the FTC will take action, the complaint comes at a time of increased public scrutiny over the tech industry’s mining of personal data and after the FTC opened an investigation last month into Facebook’s privacy practices.

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