YouTube Illegally Collects Data on Children, Say Child Advocate Groups

Tuesday, 10 Apr, 2018

Kids watch YouTube. Any attempt to deny that is ludicrous. The platform says in its terms of service that it's not for kids; users must be 13 or older.

Amanda Chaon, a Senior Digital Media Strategist at Click Rain, says YouTube and other sites like it need to be more upfront about their policies involving personal information.

With this revamped version of YouTube Kids and now these allegations that Google is data mining children, it's clear that YouTube's relationship with parents in regards to their kids is strained at the moment.

YOUTUBE HAS BEEN ILLEGALLY collecting data on children, according to a coalition of 23 USA child privacy, consumer and advocacy groups.

"If you're going to intrude on a child's life and if you're going to attempt to sell things to children and influence what children want and what they think, we at a minimum ought to have the parents involved", says Brian Ray, Director of the Cyber Security and Privacy Protection Center at Cleveland State University.

YouTube's business model is based on tracking user data like search history, location and other personal data to customize ads and their service for them.

The coalition has asked the consumer watchdog to launch an investigation into Google, which owns YouTube, for "violating children's privacy laws in operating the YouTube online video and advertising network services".

"Because YouTube is not for children, we've invested significantly in the creation of the YouTube Kids app to offer an alternative specifically designed for children", the statement read.

However, even that YouTube Kids has come under fire in recent days because it doesn't fully protect children from inappropriate videos, including those that took advantage of YouTube's algorithms for suggested videos, in order to attract views to their shady and sometimes downright disturbing content.

"Google has generated enormous gains by the collection and use of personal information from kids in YouTube. Its illegal collection has been going on for many years and involves tens of millions of USA children", reads the complaint from the child advocacy groups, which includes the Center for Digital Democracy and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. "It's living in a world of online fiction and denied that it's serving children".

FTC spokeswoman Juliana Gruenwald Henderson mentioned in an e mail that the company hasn't but acquired the letter however appears ahead to reviewing it.

The complaint was originally scheduled to be filed last week but was delayed after the shooting on Tuesday at YouTube's California headquarters. She said the FTC already has brought more than two dozen cases for violations of the 1998 law.

None of these platforms are as standard for youths as YouTube, which has toddler-themed channels with names like ChuChuTV nursery rhymes, which as of final week counted greater than 16 million subscribers and 13.four billion views.

YouTube defines its main site as a platform for viewers aged 13 years or older, while directing younger children to its YouTube Kids app - which contains a filtered set of videos to show appropriate content and ads.

Targeting kids is obviously proving to be lucrative. They level to its "Google Most well-liked" program that enables advertisers on YouTube to pay a premium to get their advertisements on the most well-liked movies. Numerous top children's channels are part of the Google Preferred "Parenting & Family" lineup.

YouTube's terms of service state that it isn't intended for kids under age 13.

Responding to the latest development, Google said they are looking into it with all the seriousness it deserves.

The coalition argues, however, that Google is trying to skirt around the law.