Social media platforms Google and YouTube agreed to pay a $170 million fine to the federal government this week over allegations the tech giants made vast sums of money from violating “children’s privacy laws.”
“The fine is by far the largest ever imposed on a website for violations of the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires companies to obtain parental consent before collecting data on children under the age of 13. But the settlement also exposed a sharp partisan divide among regulators over how far to go in policing Silicon Valley,” reports The Hill.
“The FTC alleged that YouTube, which is owned by Google, violated COPPA by collecting the personal information of users who watched videos that were clearly directed toward children and then used that data to serve up targeted advertising,” adds the website.
“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “Yet when it came to complying with COPPA, 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.”
Read the full statement from the Federal Trade Commission Below:
In addition to the monetary penalty, the proposed settlement requires Google and YouTube to develop, implement, and maintain a system that permits channel owners to identify their child-directed content on the YouTube platform so that YouTube can ensure it is complying with COPPA. In addition, the companies must notify channel owners that their child-directed content may be subject to the COPPA Rule’s obligations and provide annual training about complying with COPPA for employees who deal with YouTube channel owners.
The settlement also prohibits Google and YouTube from violating the COPPA Rule, and requires them to provide notice about their data collection practices and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting personal information from children.
The Commission voted 3-2 to authorize the complaint and stipulated final orderto be filed. Chairman Simons and Commissioner Christine S. Wilson issued a statement on this matter, while Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips, Rohit Chopra, and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter issued separate statements.
The complaint and proposed consent decree were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. NOTE:The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Consent decrees have the force of law when approved and signed by the district court judge.
The FTC would like to thank the coalition of consumer groups represented by Georgetown University’s Institute for Public Representation that filed a petition providing valuable information on this matter.
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