‘No More Ads Means No More Income’: YouTube Hit With $170 Million FTC Fine
YouTube has been hit with the largest amount for a child protection case since the law’s introduction
Playtime is over for YouTube. The video sharing site has been hit with a $170 million fine by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The settlement says that YouTube collected and tracked personal details of minors without first notifying parents and getting their consent.
The fine is the largest ever in COPPA’s 21-year history.
“When it came to complying with COPPA, the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids,” said FTC chairman Joe Simons in a statement published this morning alongside the judgement.
“Regardless of your view on size, the COPPA fine is an important milestone,” says Dylan Collins, chief executive of SuperAwesome, a company focused on online child safety. “Whether big technology companies find it convenient or not, the internet has become a much, much younger place than it was when many of these platforms were started.” According to Collins, four in 10 new internet users are children.
We’ve known this has been coming for a long while — and have previously reported it — but what wasn’t known was the size of the monetary punishment, nor YouTube’s full response.
“No more ads means no more income.”
Part of the terms of the settlement compel the FTC to publish a “clear and conspicious” notice on its platform about COPPA, which is designed to prevent children being served adverts, or having data about them collected by tech firms.
But YouTube’s response is even more blunt than that. Within four months, anyone who watches kids content on YouTube will be assumed to be a child (even if they’re not). Content creators focusing on producing content for children will have to say they’re producing content for kids, and even if they don’t opt-in, YouTube say they’ll find the creators, deploying machine learning to find those videos and flag up the creators.