By: Sarah Purtill
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
SAN BRUNO, California – A complaint is expected in federal court on Monday, April 9th, claiming YouTube has been violating a children’s privacy law. More than 20 consumer advocacy groups are expected to come together and file the complaint. The advocacy groups claim that YouTube has been both collecting and profiting from collecting the personal information of children on its main site. YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, says their platform is only meant for those 13 years of age and older.
The advocacy groups contend that YouTube has been violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The federal law states that companies are supposed to obtain consent from the parents of children younger than 13 before they collect their data. The law is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and the advocacy groups are asking that the FTC starts enforcing the law on YouTube.
“Google has been continually growing its child-directed service in the United States and all over the world without any kind of acknowledgment of this law and its responsibilities. It’s living in a world of online fiction and denied that it’s serving children,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.
YouTube defines itself as for viewers of 13 years of age or older and directs those younger than that to YouTube Kids. YouTube Kids has filtered versions of the videos and content that can be found on YouTube. The distinction YouTube gives between its’ main site and YouTube Kids is important in terms of the law. The reason for this is the rules on disclosure and parental consent that kick in for sites with supposed “actual knowledge” that they are dealing in the personal information of children under the age of 13.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was passed in 1998 and updated in 2012. It was updated to accommodate for the development of mobile devices. The update made it clear that companies were still to obtain parental permission before collecting the personal information of children. Some of this information includes identity, contact and location.
But YouTube’s terms of service state that if you are visiting the site, you are affirming that you are at least 13 years of age. By watching a video on YouTube, the policy says, viewers give parent company, Google, permission to collect the data tied to the user’s device, location, browsing habits, phone number and more. The advocacy groups say that this is the kind of information the Act requires parental consent for.
YouTube provided a statement that said they had not yet received the complaint but protecting kids and families has always been a top priority for us.”
For more information, please see:
CBS – YouTube Violates Children’s Privacy, Consumer Groups Claim – 9 April 2018
New York Times – YouTube is Improperly Collecting Children’s Data, Consumer Group Says – 9 April 2018
Verge – Consumer Advocacy Groups Complain That YouTube is Collecting Information From Children – 9 April 2018