Published: Wed, April 11, 2018
Money | By Wilma Wheeler

YouTube may be illegally collecting kids' data

YouTube may be illegally collecting kids' data

"We'd rather Google have this content for kids but then comply with COPPA".

The Guardian obtained court documents accusing the Google subsidiary of collecting children's phone numbers and devices of so that they can track them on various websites and platforms. The distinction between its main product and YouTube Kids is significant because of the rules on disclosure and parental consent that kick in for sites with "actual knowledge" that they are trafficking in the personal data of children under 13.

YouTube is facing a new complaint from a coalition of consumer advocacy groups that claims that the popular video website has broken children's privacy laws by collecting information on underage viewers in order to sell ads, according to a report in The New York Times.

A spokesperson for Google said that while it had not yet received the complaint, the firm has always made the protection of kids and families a top priority. The YouTube Kids app offers the same videos and channels as on the regular platform.

Most notably, the news cycle is focused on Facebook's involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal which will see CEO Mark Zuckerberg having to testify before Congress.

The Center for Digital Democracy and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood are leading the efforts and wants Google to clean up its act and pay the massive fines.

Non-profit group Common Sense Media is a signer on the FTC complain.

Anybody interested in protecting their children's digital privacy online is strongly advised at look at our articles here and here.

FTC spokeswoman Juliana Gruenwald Henderson said the agency looks forward to reviewing the letter. The FTC has pursued about two dozen COPPA cases in 20 years.

Google said that someone must be at least 13 years old to be able to register a Youtube account. It also has many channels that cater to preteens.

The streaming video service is well aware of its appeal with young users, advocates say. The groups also says YouTube is the most popular online platform for children in the USA and used by 80 percent of children aged 6-12.

The program includes a "Parenting & Family Lineup" that has featured channels such as ChuChu TV, Fox's BabyTV and Seven Super Girls, whose topics include "fluffy unicorn slime".

YouTube does block children who identify themselves as under 13 from posting video, by prohibiting them from creating an account to begin with, but an account isn't needed merely to watch. Google has already proven itself to be greedy when it comes to data mining, and you would have to be mad to think that Google would not have its eye on children - an online advertising market that is set to grow to $1.2 billion by 2019.

The Partner Categories platform is powered by third-party data providers such as Epsilon, Acxiom, Experian, and helps the clients to target Facebook users for the promotion of their products.

Like this: