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US government investigating YouTube for violating children’s privacy

The Federal Trade Commission, US government’s agency that is responsible for customer protection, is in the late stages of an investigation into YouTube for allegedly violating children’s privacy, the Washington Post reported on June 19. The probe has already prompted the company to re-evaluate some of its business practices, and may result in a potential fine. Consumer complaints led to the investigation After receiving numerous complaints from consumer groups and privacy advocates, FTC launched its investigation in 2018. The crux of the complaints was that YouTube violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and FTC’s COPPA Rule as it improperly collected children’s data without parental consent. Complainants’ allegations: YouTube is the most popular online platform amongst children to the extent that 80% of children in the US between 6 and 12 years old use YouTube daily. Despite knowing that children under 13 use YouTube, Google still collects and uses personal information from all YouTube users ‘without giving notice, or obtaining advanced, verifiable parental consent as required by COPPA’. In fact, many YouTube content creators ‘communicate the child-directed nature of their content’ in the “About” section of their channels. YouTube does not have a separate privacy policy for children, nor does their privacy policy mention children. As a result, Google uses information collected from all YouTube users to serve advertisements. YouTube representatives have publicly recognised the child-directed content on YouTube, especially during the launch of YouTube Kids app in 2015. The fact that children’s content is available on both YouTube…

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