MENLO PARK, California — Google and its YouTube subsidiary will pay $170 million to settle allegations that YouTube collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.
“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement. “Yet when it came to complying with (the children privacy law), 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.”
The companies allegedly collected information of children viewing videos on YouTube by tracking users of channels that are directed at kids. YouTube allegedly failed to notify parents or get their consent, violating laws that protect children’s privacy, according to a complaint filed against the companies by the FTC and the New York attorney general.
YouTube earned millions of dollars by then using this information to target ads to the children, according to the complaint.
The FTC voted 3-2 to authorize the complaint and the final order in the case.
ICYMI you can find the webcast video from today’s news conference on the FTC’s YouTube settlement here: https://t.co/RCYX8ZhPcJ
— FTC (@FTC) September 4, 2019
In his dissent, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra said Google “baited children using nursery rhymes, cartoons, and other kid-directed content on curated YouTube channels to feed its massively profitable behavioral advertising business.”
He noted that the “terms of the settlement were not even significant enough to make Google issue a warning to its investors.” Chopra said he fears “the Commission brings down the hammer on small firms, while allowing large firms to get off easier.”
The complaint said the companies’ practices violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, known as COPPA, under a 1998 law. Under the settlement, Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to the state of New York.
The company said the change “will have a significant business impact” on creators of family and children’s content and that YouTube will help them in the transition. YouTube said it will set up a $100 million fund “dedicated to the creation of thoughtful, original children’s content on YouTube and YouTube Kids globally.”