WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Federal Trade Commission today formally announced the details of a $170 million penalty for Google’s YouTube and restrictions to be imposed on the company to settle FTC charges that it mishandled children’s data in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting information from and about children without notice and obtaining advanced, verifiable parental consent. The FTC also charged that the company used this improperly-obtained information to target advertisements. This is the largest civil penalty the FTC has ever obtained in a children’s privacy case.
Consumer Reports welcomed the action from the FTC after its investigation into the company’s data practices, but said it is clear that children’s privacy is not sufficiently protected online.
Katie McInnis, policy counsel for Consumer Reports, said, “While we are glad the FTC has taken action, the Commission should have demanded a higher settlement, given the years of profits gained from breaking the law, and to deter future wrongdoing. As complaints from privacy advocates over the years have amply demonstrated, COPPA is not effectively enforced, and companies are not sufficiently incentivized to protect children’s information. We look forward to engaging with the FTC on possible updates to the COPPA Privacy Protection Rule, and we urge Congress to pass a strong federal privacy law.”
In today’s announcement, the FTC is acting on allegations brought by a number of organizations, including an April 2018 complaint by Consumer Reports and other privacy advocates that argued YouTube violated COPPA by knowingly collecting children’s information without parental consent.
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