YouTube under fire

Written by Mark Evans

Facebook has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late, and Google has had a recent existentialist crisis regarding military AI, so generally YouTube (owed by Google) has been neglected. However the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy have now filed a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Complaint detailing how Google is breaking the law by collecting personal data from children on YouTube without parental consent.

Supported by a coalition of 23 consumer and privacy groups the complaint centres on the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, a federal law regulating how to handle children’s online data, with several clauses that mean parental consent should be sought.

The coalition is calling on the FTC to hold Google accountable for serious COPPA violations: collecting data points from children and sale of that data without ever telling parents.

Google’s privacy policy says that YouTube should nor be viewed by children under 13, however as 80 per cent of American 6 to 12 year olds use YouTube, and much of the content, and advertising strategy, is designed to capture young children’s attention – including YouTube providing how-to guides for creators making videos for children, the coalition believes that it has a viable case.