Google Pays $170 Million to Settle Child Privacy Case

Posted on September 5, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Google, YouTube with 10 Comments

Google will pay a record $170 million fine to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General that YouTube has violated the privacy of children.

“The FTC and New York Attorney General allege that YouTube violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule by collecting personal information, in the form of persistent identifiers that are used to track users across the Internet, from viewers of child-directed channels, without first notifying parents and getting their consent,” the FTC announcement notes. “YouTube earned millions of dollars by using the identifiers, commonly known as cookies, to deliver targeted ads to viewers of these channels.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Google will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York. The agency notes that the $136 million penalty is “by far” the largest amount the FTC has ever obtained in a COPPA case since the law was enacted in 1998.

Privacy advocates say that the fine is “paltry” and that Google was essentially unpunished, and that merely requiring the firm to follow the law was “meaningless.” Google, they say, should be held accountable for illegally mining data from children. 

“The FTC let Google off the hook with a drop-in-the-bucket fine and a set of new requirements that fall well short of what is needed to turn YouTube into a safe and healthy place for kids,” Senator Edward J. Markey said in a statement.

For its part, Google says that it has agreed to stop placing targeted ads on children’s videos and that it will stop gathering personal data from anyone who watches those videos, regardless of age. YouTube features that involve personal data use, like comments and notifications, will also be disabled for those videos.

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Google Pays $170 Million to Settle Child Privacy Case”

  1. dontbeevil

    good, keep scroogle pay

  2. mrlinux11

    For a company that brings in over a 100 million a day, the fine is chump change. Not really much in the way of a big deal for them, the fine should have been much higher.

  3. wright_is

    That is the problem with laws made when a few million was a lot of money. With huge multi-nationals these days, it hardly dents their petty-cash. Such fines really need to be based on income.

    A lot of countries are switching over to this for driving fines as well, a 200€ fine for speeding, when you can afford to drive a 500,000€ car is nothing, whereas for somebody on a low wage or unemployed, it is a big bite out of their monthly income and a real deterrent. Make that 200€ a percentage of monthly income and suddenly the low wage person gets the same fine as before, but a rich driver will suddenly face a several thousand Euro fine.

    I don't know what the record for a speeding fine is, but I heard about someone getting a 5 figure fine in one of the Nordic countries.

    That or start throwing executives in gaol.

  4. rm

    Sounds like another example of Google being blatant in violating privacy; this time with targeting kids. Kind of like Juul selling e-vaping with bubblegum and fruit loops flavors with nicotine, but not putting on the label it has nicotine!


    They need about a $50 billion dollar fine. Right now, even after this fine, they know the risk is low and the reward is high. So, they say they are going to stop, but that doesn't mean they will or won't start again.

  5. Stooks

    Google, Facebook and Twitter are great examples of how technology can do bad things to society. I am a firm believer that those three companies do more harm that good and if they were to disappear tomorrow it would not matter.



  6. Pungkuss

    These were not videos on YouTube Kids. These were on YouTube proper. This means parents allowed their kids under 13 to use their accounts on YouTube. Turns out sites marketed to kids and the ruling is that YouTube should have known by the material that kids were watching it and not the parents and not use personalized ads/tracking. I think we can all agree that the sites producing these videos, the parents, and YouTube were at fault here. Funny that Tik Tok was just found to be doing the same thing and fined 5.7mil. YouTube was fined 170mil, and everyone is screaming bloody murder. The Chinese conglomerate that owns Tik Tok, makes a shit load of cash as well.


  7. AnOldAmigaUser

    Now, if only I trusted Google to get rid of all the data they collect from children using G-Suite and Classroom in school.

    Based on the releases that we are supposed to sign for our children, it appears that it collects all the usual data, including PII. Just because it is not being used for ads now, does not mean that it will not be in the future.

  8. sharpsone

    A record amount in the millions isn't enough for a company that generates billions on a monthly basis. I'm displeased that my childrens school uses their Spyware, no data collection should be allowed in schools or outside when dealing with minors. I still don't know how the hell millions of children have access to social media account without proper age verification. We litteraly have kids in America registered as twenty somethings. Something is very wrong when we turn our heads away from privacy and security to aid big tech which uses "our" data to profit.

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