Google YouTube FTC COPPA Settlement

Aug 30 2019

Press Statement

Google YouTube FTC COPPA Settlement

Statement of Katharina Kopp, Ph.D.

Deputy Director

Center for Digital Democracy

August 30, 2019

It has been reported that Google has agreed to pay between $150 million and $200 million to resolve an FTC investigation into YouTube over alleged violations of a children's privacy law.

A settlement amount of $150-200 million would be woefully low, considering the egregious nature of the violation, how much Google profited from violating the law, and given Google’s size and revenue. Google’s unprecedented violation requires an unprecedented FTC response. A small amount like this would effectively reward Google for engaging in massive and illegal data collection without any regard to children’s safety. 

In addition to assessing substantial civil penalties, the FTC must enjoin Google from committing further violations of COPPA and impose effective means for monitoring compliance; the FTC must impose a 20-year consent decree to ensure Alphabet Inc. acts responsibly when it comes to serving children and parents.

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In April, 2018, the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), through their attorneys at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation (IPR), filed an FTC complaint detailing YouTube’s COPPA violations. Twenty-one other privacy and consumer groups signed on to CCFC and CDD’s complaint, which detailed how Google profits by collecting personal information from kids on YouTube, without first providing direct notice to parents and obtaining their consent as required by law. Google uses this information to target advertisements to children across the internet and across devices, in clear violation of COPPA.

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