YouTube Hit With a $150 to $200 Million Fine After Reportedly Violating Children's Privacy (UPDATE)

The Federal Trade Commission settled federal privacy charges against YouTube on Friday.


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UPDATED 9/4, 11 a.m. ET: Google and YouTube are set to pay $170 million to the FTC and the state of New York for illegally harvesting personal data from kids without parental consent. “The record fine … has ramifications across all platforms, as so much of kids’ viewing habits have shifted to online devices,” Deadline writes.

$136 million will go to the Federal Trade Commission; the remaining $34 million goes to New York. It’s the biggest fine the FTC has ever collected since implementing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in 1998.

See original story below.

The Federal Trade Commission has settled federal privacy charges against YouTube.

While the terms of the settlement are vague, Google will reportedly pay fines between $150 to $200 million, according to The Verge. The charges derived from data collection and targeting practices by YouTube, which consumer groups claimed breached the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Details of the settlement were worked out during today’s vote.

On Friday, YouTube also revealed a new web portal for YouTube Kids, as well as a collection of more discriminating content filters. In recent weeks, the platform has made changes to its policy as an answer to the settlement, including establishing a specific ban on violent or “mature” videos that have been marketed towards kids. YouTube has also prohibited targeted ads on children’s videos.

The fine was a letdown for YouTube critics, who saw it as a slap on the wrist for the serious privacy violations that the video service had been charged with. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said the fine is “a partisan settlement.”

“Once again, this FTC appears to have let a powerful company off the hook with a nominal fine for violating users’ privacy online,” Markey said in a statement, per The Verge. “We owe it to kids to come down hard on companies that infringe on children’s’ privacy and violate federal law.”

Other privacy groups felt the same way. “Under COPPA, the children’s privacy law, the FTC had authority to impose tens of billions in fines against Google,” consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said. “A penalty of no more than $200 million utterly fails to protect children’s rights. It neither punishes Google adequately nor deters Google or other companies from future violations.”

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