Google to pay $170 million for violating kids' privacy on Youtube

By Sarah Min

/ MoneyWatch

Google will pay a record $170 million fine to settle a lawsuit filed by federal and state authorities that charged the internet giant with violating children's privacy on YouTube, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.

The settlement requires Google and Youtube to pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, by collecting personal information from children without their parents' consent.

The FTC and the New York attorney general alleged in a complaint that Youtube gathered children's personal information by using "cookies," or personal identifiers, that track users online. According to the suit, Youtube earned millions of dollars for delivering targeted ads using the information.

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COPPA requires online websites to obtain parental consent prior to collecting kids' information. The FTC and New York Attorney General Letitia James said that, while Youtube claimed it caters to a general audience, many of its channels are aimed at children. That requires the service to comply with COPPA guidelines.

Why YouTube, under FTC probe, "could be a lot safer" for kids

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

Prior to Google's settlement, the largest civil FTC penalty for a children's data-privacy case was $5.7 million for a case involving social media app TikTok.

First published on September 4, 2019 / 10:46 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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