Local reaction after YouTube settles for child privacy allegation

Published: Sep. 4, 2019 at 9:45 PM CDT
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Google's video site YouTube has been fined by the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly tracking children's data across the internet and using it to make millions of dollars through targeted ads.

Google and YouTube will pay $170 million, which the FTC says is by far the largest penalty given out in such a case.

YouTube and Google now have to make YouTube channel owners clearly identify content for kids, and they're barred from using any data already collected from children.

"I think platforms do you have an obligation to be transparent with their users about what data is collected and how it's being used. And when it comes to kids, then parents can make the decision about what they're agreeing to when using a certain platform," said Cyberbulling Research Center Co-Director Dr. Justin Patchin.

According to the FTC, YouTube collected personal information from children younger than 13 without consent from their parents.

For Eau Claire dad Chance Orth, internet privacy is something he's thinking about as his daughter grows older.

"As far as all the dangers in the world, online privacy doesn't rank that high for me. However as she progresses in age, she's just going into Kindergarten tomorrow, it's definitely something that's on every parents radar," said Orth.

Under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule, also known as COPPA, child websites or websites offering services to children must receive consent from a parent before tracking any data or information.

Patchin says the settlement will mostly impact content creators who make videos for children.

"YouTube, indirectly resulting from this, is going to be providing more resources to help produce kid content so they're creating a fund to encourage people to create this content because the concern is now with these restrictions, it's going to be harder to find kid content on YouTube," he explained.

According to the FTC, 93 percent of pre-teens go to YouTube to watch videos.

YouTube acknowledges while it is a website targeted at people older than 13, it acknowledges more and more kids are probably using the site without parental consent.

"We watch a lot of PBS kids and things like that and I know a lot of people do get their content from YouTube and you know it's another free source of video," said Orth.

Patchin says one of the avenues YouTube has recently put a lot of money into is called 'YouTube Kids'.

That's an app you can download on your phone or tablet to give children younger than 13 what YouTube calls a safer and simpler experience.