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Google Hit With $170 Million Fine for Violating Children’s Privacy

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Google has been hit with a $170 multimillion-dollar fine for not doing enough to protect the privacy of children using YouTube. Many critics think that’s nowhere near steep enough. Don’t Make Me a Target Google agreed to a joint settlement between the Federal Trade Commission and New York’s attorney general for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which strictly prohibits online companies from collecting personal data from children under 13 without a parent’s permission. Regulators accused YouTube, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, of doing just that: collecting children’s private data without their parent’s consent by the use of identification codes, and then profiting from that information with targeted ads. YouTube has reportedly marketed itself to advertisers as a top online destination for children, making millions from ads while claiming it didn’t have viewers under the age of 13, while a quick scroll through the website will find uncover plenty of videos for young kids. Kids Incorporated As part of the settlement, YouTube will require content creators to identify any children’s content they post, so that targeted advertisements are not placed within the videos. YouTube will also have to get consent from parents before collecting or sharing personal detail about their kids, like their name or photos. Google and YouTube are also banned from sharing any children’s data that has already been harvested. YouTube has voluntarily decided to not harvest data on anyone who watches a video made for children, even if the viewer is an adult, and will eliminate features such as comments and notifications on children’s videos that might capture personal information. Looking Fine Critics, including children’s advocacy groups like the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and The Center for Digital Democracy, have pointed out that $170 million (with $136 million going to the FTC and $34 million to New York State) is but a slap on the wrist for a company as profitable as Google, and the FTC is really only making Google comply with a pre-existing law it should have already been following. Google’s settlement is the largest fine ever collected by the FTC in a children’s privacy case, dwarfing the $5.7 million fine against the owner of the social video-sharing app TikTok from earlier this year. -Michael Tedder Photo by Adobe