Google will pay $170 million for YouTube’s child privacy violations

On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced it would fine Google $ 170 million following an agency investigation on YouTube of alleged violations of the Children's Privacy Act.

In the settlement, FTC and the New York Attorney General claim that Google has marketed its own video platform, YouTube, to advertisers who know that many channels are popular with younger audiences. It also alleges that the company follows the date children watched their ads, which violate the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The $ 170 million fine is the largest of COPPA, prompting the parent company to override the fine TikTok obtained last February for violations of the same law.

"YouTube promotes the popularity of children with potential corporate customers," said Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joe Simmons. However, when it came to compliance with COPPA, the company refused to recognize that parts of its platform were clearly addressed to children. There is no excuse for YouTube's violations of the law. "

The settlement was approved by a 3-2 party vote, with Republican commissioners voting to approve it. The details of the settlement were leaked last week, but the agency confirmed that day.

The settlement also requires Google to make new changes to its business practices, such as requiring creators to name content intended for younger people and to stop collecting data on videos that clearly target minors. It is not clear how YouTube identified content targeting minors, but said on its blog that its algorithms would seek to categorize content that "focuses on children's personalities, features, games or games."

In a post that responded to the settlement on Wednesday, YouTube wrote, "Starting from four months, we will treat data from anyone who views children's content on YouTube as coming from a child, regardless of the user's age." This means that we will limit the collection and use of data to videos specifically for children only to what is required to support the operation of the service. "

YouTube also noted that comments and notifications will no longer be available on children's content like this. The system will also stop showing targeted ads on this type of content.

This settlement with Google is the latest attempt by FTC to address Silicon Valley privacy violations. Just last month, Facebook was fined $ 5 billion after a year-long investigation into the company's privacy violations following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

For months, legislators and consumer groups have criticized YouTube for violating the Children's Privacy Act. In today's statement, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), who authored COPPA, banned the FTC from not going any further. "The FTC has withdrawn this practice, but it was not enough to establish new rules of accountability," he said. "The FTC allowed Google to close by imposing a set of requirements and a new set of requirements less than the need to make YouTube a safe and healthy place for children."

"This will make YouTube safer for children than it used to be, but without support for capturing inappropriate content, it won't make YouTube safe enough," Democratic Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter criticized the compromise. "More action is needed, and I hope our partners in public law firms will be able to finish the job."

Slaughter also noted in her opposition that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could have gone further in requesting that children's content be properly categorized on the platform, suggesting that the agency requires very little from Google in disciplining creators who mis-label their content.

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