YouTube accused of violating children's privacy laws 4 years ago

YouTube accused of violating children's privacy laws

Campaign groups in the US have accused YouTube of collecting children's data.

It's alleged that the video-sharing platform, which is owned by Google' parent organisation Alphabet Inc., has violated US law by allowing ads to be targeted at under-13s.

Youtube claims to be for users over the age of 13, but in a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the groups say that the site has many programs specifically tailored to users who are younger than that, reports RTÉ.

They also say that YouTube makes significant profit from advertising to its young users.

The complaint states that the site targets this advertising by harvesting children's details, including location and mobile phone numbers, without their parents' consent.

This is a violation of children's privacy under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which makes requirements of websites that target under-13s and websites that knowingly have users under the age of 13, the groups say.

YouTube accused of violating children's privacy laws

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"For years, Google has abdicated its responsibility to kids and families by disingenuously claiming YouTube, a site rife with popular cartoons, nursery rhymes and toy ads, is not for children under 13," said Josh Golin of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, one of the groups backing the complaint.

"Google profits immensely by delivering ads to kids and must comply with COPPA."

The campaigners are calling on the FTC to fine Alphabet Inc "tens of billions of dollars."

In response, YouTube has said that protecting kids is a "top priority."

"We will read the complaint thoroughly and evaluate if there are things we can do to improve,” it said.

"Because YouTube is not for children, we’ve invested significantly in the creation of the YouTube Kids app to offer an alternative specifically designed for children."