YouTube To Pay $170M Fine After Violating Kids' Privacy Law

WCBS 880 Newsroom
September 04, 2019 - 10:06 am

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) — Google and YouTube will pay a total of $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and New York's attorney general that the video platform collected children's personal data without parents' consent.

The FTC will get $136 million and the rest will go to New York. The fine marks the largest the FTC has leveled against Google, although it's dwarfed by the $5 billion fine the agency imposed against fellow tech giant Facebook earlier this year for privacy violations.
The FTC found that YouTube violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which requires parental consent before companies can collect children's personal information.

The investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office found "both Google and YouTube knowingly and illegally tracked and served targeted advertisements to children under the age of 13 on YouTube in violation of COPPA."

“Google and YouTube knowingly and illegally monitored, tracked, and served targeted ads to young children just to keep advertising dollars rolling in,” said the state's Attorney General Letitia James. “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 U.S. history. My office is committed to protecting children and holding those who put our kids in harm’s way — both on and offline — accountable.”

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.

James said Google and YouTube are putting forth the following measures to ensure they are complying with the COPPA law:

  • Developing, implementing, and maintaining a system for users to designate whether the video content they have uploaded is directed to children;
  • Notifying users that content directed towards children on YouTube may be subject to the COPPA Rule, and that users who have uploaded such content are obligated to designate it as child-directed;
  • Providing annual COPPA compliance training to employees responsible for managing relationships with users that upload content to YouTube; and
  • Obtaining verifiable parental consent before any collection, use, and/or disclosure of personal information from children.
  • Google and YouTube have also agreed that personal information previously collected from children can no longer be used.

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said more needs to be done to protect the privacy of children.

“A financial settlement is no substitute for strict reforms that will stop Google and other tech companies from invading our privacy—particularly when children are concerned. I continue to be alarmed by Big Tech’s policies and practices that invade children's lives. When companies like Google repeatedly break the law, the FTC must demand structural change and executive accountability," he stated. "I am concerned that the divided vote reflects a lack of resolve and a lost opportunity to impose necessary accountability measures to rein in Google’s pattern of privacy abuses.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report