YouTube To Pay FTC For Alleged Violations of COPPA

According to the Federal Trade Commission, YouTube, LLC will settle allegations by the FTC and the New York Attorney General that the video sharing service unlawfully collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent.

The settlement requires the payment for allegedly violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule. In a complaint, FTC CID attorneys and New York Attorney General allege that YouTube violated COPPA 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.

COPPA requires that child-directed websites and online services provide notice of their information practices and obtain verifiable parental consent prior to collecting personal information from children under 13. Third parties like advertising networks are also subject to COPPA where they have actual knowledge they are collecting personal information directly from users of child-directed websites and online services.

“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” said FTC lawsuit attorney Chairman Joe Simons. “Yet when it came to complying with COPPA, the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids.”

The complaint alleges that some of YouTube’s individual channels are child-directed and that targeted advertisements were served on these channels.

The proposed settlement also requires that verifiable parental consent be obtained before collection personal information from children, the development of systems that permit channel owners to identify their child-directed content on the platform, notification to the channel owners that their child-directed content may be subject to the COPPA’s obligations, and the provision of annual training about complying with COPPA for employees that interact with YouTube channel owners.

Richard B. Newman is an FTC CID attorney and represents digital marketers in advertising lawsuits and investigations initiated by the Federal Trade Commission. Follow him on Twitter @ FTC CID Attorneys.

Informational purposes only. Not legal advice.