US settlement reached over YouTube children’s privacy breaches

FTC looks to change children’s privacy law following complaints about YouTube

The US Federal Trade Commission has voted to approve a potentially multimillion-dollar settlement with Google over the violation of children’s privacy laws by its video platform YouTube, according to two people familiar with the situation.

The FTC launched an investigation into Alphabet’s Google unit after consumer groups and privacy campaigners alleged that the company failed to properly protect younger YouTube users from inappropriate content and unlawfully collected their personal information. Under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, also known as COPPA, companies are required to obtain parental consent before collecting certain types of data from people below the age of 13.

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The vote on the settlement, which is expected to be in the millions of dollars, was divided down party lines, with three Republican commissioners coming out in favour, and two Democrats against, the two people said.

The fine and the terms of the deal, which could include potential restrictions to YouTube’s business practices, are now under review by the US Department of Justice. It is unclear how long this will take, though the DoJ rarely rejects FTC settlements.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is considering an update to the laws governing children’s privacy online, known as the COPPA Rule (or, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). The rule first went into effect in 2000 and was amended in 2013 to address changes in how children use mobile devices and social networking sites. Now the FTC believes it may be due for more revisions. The organization is seeking input and comments on possible updates, some of which are specifically focused on how to address sites that aren’t necessarily aimed at children, but have large numbers of child users.


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