Google, YouTube Violate Child Protection Laws with Data Collection - Advocacy Groups
Google violates child protection laws by collecting data from, and advertising to, children under 13, according to a complaint lodged with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by a coalition of child protection and privacy groups.
The groups allege that Google, YouTube’s parent organization, gathers data from tens of millions of children under 13 in the US alone. Google does this knowingly, and without asking for parental consent first – a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The advocacy groups, which include the Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), and the Consumer Watchdog, are pressing the FTC to sanction Google for these alleged privacy violations.
For years, Google has abdicated its responsibility to kids and families by disingenuously claiming YouTube – a site rife with popular cartoons, nursery rhymes, and toy ads – is not for children under 13,” said Josh Golin, CCFC director. “Google profits immensely by delivering ads to kids and must comply with COPPA. It’s time for the FTC to hold Google accountable for its illegal data collection and advertising practices.”
“Just like Facebook, Google has focused its huge resources on generating profits instead of protecting privacy,” Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy added.
YouTube’s terms of service state that the website is not intended for children. However, it is used by around 80 percent of children in the US. Despite the launch of a separate, content-filtered “YouTube Kids”app in 2015, a study cited in the groups’ complaint found that only 24 percent of children who watch YouTube use the Youtube Kids app.
Some of the most popular channels on YouTube are explicitly directed at children. In the US, the second-most popular channel is Ryan ToysReview, which has more than 20 billion views and 12 million subscribers. “Ryan loves toys. Toys Review for kids by a kid! Join Ryan to see him play with toys and review toys for kids!” This channel alone earned Google almost $5 million in advertising revenue last year, and it is just one of many.
Children-focused channels ChuChuTV Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs and LittleBabyBum have over 25 billion views and over 25 million subscribers between them.