Google to pay up to $200M to settle FTC probe into YouTube over children’s privacy violation

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Google agreed to settle the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) investigation into YouTube for allegedly violating the children’s privacy law.

Last month, the FTC and Google reportedly reached a multi-million dollar settlement. The search engine giant agreed to settle after the regulator’s investigation determined that YouTube improperly collected children’s personal data and failed to protect their online privacy. Therefore, the video-sharing platform violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

On Friday, Politico first reported that Google will pay between $150 million and $200 million to resolve the matter. The Department of Justice will review the settlement, which was approved by the FTC with 3-2 votes along party lines.

Consumer advocates requested the federal regulator to impose the maximum penalty against Google and YouTube for violating the children’s privacy law,

Consumer advocates say the penalty is “terribly inadequate”

 In response to the reported settlement, consumer advocates stated that amount of penalty is insufficient.

In a statement, Josh Golin, the executive director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said, “We are glad that our advocacy has compelled the FTC to act and finally hold Google accountable for years of COPPA violations. However, if the FTC fines Google only $200 million, that’s terribly inadequate.” He noted that the amount is “equivalent of two to three months of YouTube ad revenue.

In addition, Golin said the FTC “allowed YouTube to build a children’s media empire through illegal means” and no one can compete against it.

The regulator “should levy a fine which both levels the playing field, and serves as a deterrent to future COPPA violations. This fine would do neither,” said Golin.

Furthermore, he stated, “We are encouraged by reports that, as a result of our advocacy, YouTube will no longer serve manipulative behavioral ads to children. But we await the terms of the final settlement to determine whether these changes will actually be meaningful. It is extremely concerning that Google has not removed kids’ content from the main YouTube site, and it’s unclear how children who watch there will be protected from Google’s surveillance.”