Cybersecurity & Data Privacy

YouTube Child Privacy Violations and Lawsuits

Lieff Cabraser is investigating allegations of widespread child privacy violations by YouTube.

Lieff Cabraser represents parents and their children in a series of groundbreaking privacy lawsuits against major game and app developers and their advertising partners for improperly collecting and using children’s personal information to track and serve them targeted advertisements in popular and widely used children’s gaming apps.

Now, YouTube, the Federal Trade Commission, and the State of New York have announced a $170 million payment to settle allegations by the FTC and the New York Attorney General that YouTube engaged in similar misconduct, by profiting from the illegal collection of personal information from children without their parents’ consent to knowingly target their kids with behavioral ads.

The settlement requires Google and YouTube to pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York for allegedly violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The $136 million penalty is the largest amount the FTC has ever obtained under COPPA.

COPPA requires that child-directed websites and online services provide notice of their information practices and obtain parental consent prior to collecting personal information from children under 13, including the use of persistent identifiers to track a user’s Internet browsing habits for targeted advertising. In addition, third parties, including advertising networks, are also subject to COPPA if they have actual knowledge they are collecting personal information directly from users of child-directed websites and online services.

YouTube’s Violations Were Widespread and Rampant

YouTube has always had countless child-directed channels, and markets itself as a top destination for kids in presentations to the makers of popular children’s products and brands. Google and YouTube told potential toy marketers that “YouTube is today’s leader in reaching children age 6-11 against top TV channels” and that YouTube is the “#1 website regularly visited by kids.”

“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” said FTC 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. There’s no excuse for YouTube’s violations of the law.”

Federal Settlement Wildly Insufficient to Protect Our Kids

While the proposed FTC settlement may seem large, it is tiny compared to the billions of dollars YouTube and its owner Google reap every year, including many hundreds of millions of dollars per year targeting children alone. What’s more, the settlement’s injunctive relief does not adequately stop YouTube’s bad practices, leaving ample opportunity for the company to continue illegally harvesting and selling children’s personal information to advertisers.

Contact a National Privacy Rights Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser

If you are a parent concerned about YouTube’s illegal collection and monetization of your child’s private personal information in violation of U.S. law, we urge you to contact us today about your child’s rights and your potential case against YouTube.

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