Google-owned company YouTube violated a federal privacy law by collecting personal information about children as per allegations made by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Google-based company had been accused of tracking viewers of children’s contents and channels using cookies which are obtained without parental consent so as to deliver millions of dollars in the targeted advertisement to those viewers.
The settlement that Google made with the New York State attorney general’s office which will receive $34m and with the FTC, is apparent the largest fine ever paid by a company in this sector since a law banning collecting information about children under 13 came into effect in 1998. The same law was again revised in 2013 to include “cookies”, which are used to track internet viewing habits.Children’s advocacy groups and many Democrats complained that the settlement placed with Google isn’t strong enough. Alphabet Inc, which is the parent company of Google, generates most of its revenues from the sales of ad technology and ad space. In the month of July, they reportedly generated total second-quarter revenue of $38.9bn.
On the other hand, YouTube has said in a statement on Wednesday that in four months it would begin treating all the data collected from viewers watching children’s content as if it came from a child. “This means that we will limit data collection and use on videos made for kids only to what is needed to support the operation of the service,” YouTube said on its blog.In addition to the monetary fine, the proposed settlement requires the company to create a system for identifying the contents aimed at children and to notify channel owners about their obligations to get consent from parents before collecting information on children.