YouTube plans sweeping changes to kids video after record $170M fine

Google will pay $170 million to settle YouTube child privacy accusations

Google will pay $170 million to settle YouTube child privacy accusations

Reports last week suggested Google would pay up to $200 million to settle the accusations.

The FTC, voted 3-2, by party lines, to fine Google-owned video platform YouTube $136 million, and Google will pay $34 million to NY state to resolve similar allegations that it collected children's personal information without their parents' consent.

The move, which is being seen as a major change in how kids are targeted on the internet, comes as YouTube's parent Google agreed a $170m (€154m) fine with USA regulators over having improperly collected personal data on children.

YouTube has earned millions of dollars by using cookies to deliver targeted ads to viewers of the channels, according to a complaint filed by the FTC and the state of NY.

In addition to the monetary fine, the proposed settlement requires the company to refrain from violating the law in the future and to notify channel owners about their obligations to get consent from parents before collecting information on children.

YouTube has its own app for children, called YouTube Kids; the company also launched a website version of the service in August.

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

"Google made billions off the backs of children, developing a host of intrusive and manipulative marketing practices that take advantage of their developmental vulnerabilities".

Joseph Simons chairman of the Federal Trade Commission speaks at a news conference at the agency's headquarters in Washington on Wednesday Sept 4 2019. The New York Times

Democratic Commissioner Rohit Chopra, meanwhile, faulted the FTC for failing to obtain a larger fine after "illegally harvesting children's data", which he wrote was "extremely lucrative" for Google.

Investigators at the FTC and in NY agreed, finding that Google's own content rating systems had identified certain YouTube channels as directed toward children.

"The order does not require YouTube to police the channels that deceive by mis-designating their content, such as by requiring YouTube to put in place a technological backstop to identify undesignated child-directed content and turn off behavioral advertising", Kelly Slaughter wrote in her dissent.

YouTube has already begun plans to strip videos aimed at kids of "targeted" ads, which rely on information such as web-browsing cookies, Bloomberg has reported. "This will give content creators a perverse incentive to mislabel their content.it is not at all clear that this will do anything to meaningfully protect children", Berin Szóka, president of Washington, D.C. -based think tank TechFreedom, said in a statement.

According to a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission, YouTube marketed itself as a top destination for kids in presentations to the makers of popular children's products and brands. "The two reportedly told Hasbro that YouTube is the "#1 website regularly visited by kids". Those sharing the video will have to identify children's programming as such.

Personalized ads will stop running on content made for kids. This settlement will cut advertising revenue for creators of child-directed content by more than half.

YouTube to modify data collection policies.

News of the fine comes as Google faces allegations in Europe that it has been using secret, hidden web pages to feed web users' personal data to advertisers. Wojcicki said the newest transitions "won't be easy for some creators" and the company would work with them and provide resources to navigate the changes.

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