Google needs to pay $170M for breaking COPPA rule on Youtube

by Gabriel E. Hall - -

Google has to pay a $170 million fine for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act on YouTube

Google needs to pay $170M for breaking kids' privacy laws on Youtube

Google has recently ordered to pay the fine of $170 million for breaking the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).[1] This order has been made by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the general attorney from New York City as Google failed to follow the requirements on YouTube Kids.[2]

Youtube Kids[3] is a video app created in 2015 specifically for users aged between 2 and 12 years. The video-based content is targeting kids and has been criticized for showing commercial content for such vulnerable audience.

However, it seems that it is not the biggest issue. According to the investigation, Google earned a big number of income by manipulating private data that belongs to users who are under thirteen years old.[4] Such data collection is not allowed if the parents did not give permission allowing gathering information about their kid.

As all other data gathered behind ones back, private details on kids might be used for producing targeted ads for income what is against the law if the parents did not permit such type of activity. Google failed to follow this rule and is ordered to pay $136M for the FTC and $34M for New York authorities which brings a total of $170M.[5]

Parents were not informed about the ongoing data collection regarding their own kids

The data collected included identification codes used to identify children browsing habits and search history. Parents were not notified about such ongoing activity and, this way, Google has put themselves into trouble and huge fines.

According to numerous resources, the $170 million amount of money is a very noticeable price. It is the biggest amount that has been urged by the FTC since 1998, when the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act was released. However, when trying to compare this fine with the one that Facebook had to pay for breaking privacy rules, it doesn't seem so shocking. The fine here is reaching $5 billion!

Google and YouTube are ordered to increase kids' privacy in the future

Regarding the incident, Google and YouTube were also ordered to manage children privacy protection in some advanced ways. Here are the steps that will be taken in the upcoming future:

  • Informing channel developers about the possibility that the content which is linked to children on their websites might interfere with the rules written in the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
  • Creating a specific system that allows spotting children-related information on particular channels. This way, YouTube network will be able to make sure that kid-based data remains safe and no privacy rules are violated.

YouTube claims that they are looking forward to ensuring the safety of children's personal data in many different ways. Besides, the CEO of YouTube services, named Susan Wojcicki, is looking forward to preventing person-targeted ads from showing up on the user's computer screen while watching video channels:[6]

We will also stop serving personalized ads on this content entirely, and some features will no longer be available on this type of content, like comments and notifications. In order to identify content made for kids, creators will be required to tell us when their content falls in this category, and we’ll also use machine learning to find videos that clearly target young audiences, for example those that have an emphasis on kids characters, themes, toys, or games.

Nevertheless, YouTube has announced in their blog that all of these safety measures are only the beginning of the safety activities and even more is yet to come. Besides, the company ensured that they understand the importance of kids' privacy and claims to regularly inform users if any other changes are performed in this direction.

About the author

Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate web researcher

Gabriel E. Hall is a passionate malware researcher who has been working for 2-spyware for almost a decade.

Contact Gabriel E. Hall
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