Sanctions are being imposed on Google, which would not comply with child protection laws on the collection and use of data on YouTube.
YouTube is not a bargain for children. A coalition of 23 children’s and privacy groups filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission claiming that Google is violating child protection laws by collecting personal data and targeting users under the age of 13 for advertising purposes.
The organization claims that although Google claims that YouTube is only for people aged 13 or above, it knows perfectly well that children connect and use the site, both with and without their parents. So the Mountain View giant collects personal information on children, such as geolocation, type of device used, IP address, and track them through different sites and services without prior consent of parents as required by the law on online privacy protection.
The coalition urges the FTC to investigate the matter and sanction Google for its alleged violations.
For Google, children are a mine of money
“For years Google has dubbed its responsibilities to children and families by claiming that YouTube – a site full of children’s content – is not for users under the age of 13,” said Josh Golin, CCFC executive. “Google earns a huge fortune by offering advertisements to young audiences, and must comply with the privacy guidelines. It is time for the FTC to hold the company responsible for the illegal collection of data and for incorrect advertising practices”.
It’s true that targeting children for web ads can be very lucrative. We think only of the popular YouTube channel called RyanToysReview in which a child of only 6 years is taken by his mother while playing with her toys and judges them. The channel, which has more than 20 billion views, has earned 11 million dollars last year, according to Forbes.
YouTube is the most important brand in the lives of children
On Friday, BuzzFeed reported that Google plans to offer a more secure and personalized option on YouTube Kids, the video platform version designed specifically for smaller users and launched in 2015.
A YouTube spokesperson said that “protecting children and families has always been a priority for us. We will read the complaint thoroughly and evaluate if there are any things we can do to improve. Since YouTube is not for children, we have invested significantly in creating the Kids version to offer them an alternative specifically designed for their needs.”
A survey published last year by a children’s market research firm called YouTube the most powerful brand in the lives of children, with 80% of young Americans aged 6 to 12 using it on a daily basis. Survey confirmed by Common Sense, which found that 71% of parents have children who watch YouTube from browsers or apps, while only 24% use the YouTube Kids app.