FTC reportedly approves settlement with Google over YouTube’s violation of children’s privacy law

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) already approved a settlement with Google in connection with YouTube’s alleged violations of children’s privacy law.

On Friday night, the Washington Post reported that the FTC’s investigation found that YouTube improperly collected children’s personal data and failed to protect their online privacy.

Its action is a violation of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires website operators to obtain parental consent before obtaining any personal information of children under 13 years of age.

Google is expected to pay a multi-million dollar fine under the settlement, which was supported by the FTC’s three Republican Commissioners and rejected by the two Democratic Commissioners, according to the newspaper based on information from unnamed sources.  The settlement is still subject to review by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Consumer advocates requested FTC to impose maximum penalty against Google, YouTube

The Commission’s investigation into Google and YouTube’s practices related to children’s privacy was prompted by the complaint filed by consumer advocates.

In April last year, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) requested the FTC to investigate the deceptive and unfair marketing practices on YouTube kids. The consumer advocates also asked the regulator to probe the tech company’s promotion of unfair and deceptive influencer marketing.

The consumer advocates recently encouraged the FTC to impose maximum penalty against Google and YouTube. They reminded the Commission that “Google has profited by violating the law and the privacy of tens of millions of children.” It must “take strong action” against Google and YouTube due to the “ongoing and serious issues” that affect kids online privacy.

A previous report from Bloomberg indicated that Google is considering implementing changes on YouTube to protect children.

FTC considering changes to COPPA

The FTC is considering updating the COPPA earlier than expected due to the fast-changing technology. Its last review of the children’s online privacy law was in 2013.The Commission normally reviews it every ten years.

On Wednesday, the Commission announced that it is seeking comments regarding a wide range of issues related to the COPPA.

“In light of rapid technological changes that impact the online children’s marketplace, we must ensure COPPA remains effective. We’re committed to strong COPPA enforcement, as well as industry outreach and a COPPA business hotline to foster a high level of COPPA compliance. But we also need to regularly revisit and, if warranted, update the Rule,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons.