YouTube will have to pay $170 million because it broke federal law by collecting personal information about children. Federal Trade Commission announced that YouTube had been accused of tracking viewers of children’s channels using cookies without parental consent and using those cookies to target million of dollars in advertisements to those viewers.
YouTube announced on its blog that “We are changing how we treat data for children’s content on YouTube. Starting in about four months, we will treat data from anyone watching children’s content on YouTube as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user. This means that we will limit data collection and use on videos made for kids only to what is needed to support the operation of the service.”
Besides the monetary fine, the settlement requires the company to create a system for identifying content aimed at children and to notify channel owners about their obligations to get consent from parents before collecting information on children.
“No other company in America is subject to these types of requirements and they will impose significant costs on YouTube”, FTC Chairman Joe Simons told reporters.
According to Andrew Smith, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, mentioned that “It happens that $170 million is roughly the budget of the Bureau of Consumer Protection for one year”. He also mentioned that the Commission would “conduct a sweep of the YouTube platform to determine whether there remains child-directed content” in which personal information is being collected. The FTC could take actions against individual content creators or channel owners as a result.
YouTube announced in late August that it would launch YouTube Kids with separate niches for children depending on their ages and designed to exclude disturbing videos. It has no behavioral advertising.
“Google and YouTube knowingly and illegally monitored, tracked, and served targeted ads to young children just to keep advertising dollars rolling in,” mentioned New York Attorney General Letitia James said.