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FTC-YouTube Settlement: Statement by Consumer Reports

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.

 

Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, 202-719-5916

 

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For more than 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.