20 Advocacy Groups Say YouTube Illegally Collects Data on Kids

April 9, 2018, 12:58 PM UTC

A group of advocates has asked the FTC to investigate YouTube, alleging that the Google subsidiary isn’t doing enough to make sure it isn’t collecting data on kids.

A complaint was filed Monday by the Center for Digital Democracy, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and 18 other child, consumer, and privacy advocacy groups. The coalition argues that Google, YouTube’s parent company, violated the 1998 Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which says companies have to get a parent’s consent before collecting data on users under the age of 13.

YouTube’s terms of use say users have to be 13 or older to create an account. They have also released a YouTube Kids app to allow children to interact with age-appropriate content. However, even that kid-safe zone has come under fire recently, as some videos have been inappropriately included in the service. YouTube is reportedly considering a new iteration of the app that would have no algorithm. Instead, all accessible content would be reviewed by a real person.

The complaint to the FTC is only the latest in a series of data and advertising scandals that have forced social networks and their users to examine the policies and implications of sharing online.

A Google spokesperson told CNN: “Protecting kids and families has always been a top priority for us. We will read the complaint thoroughly and evaluate if there are things we can do to improve.”

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