The Parent of a Five-Year-Old is Suing YouTube and its Biggest Kids Channels

YouTube’s FTC settlement has opened the floodgates for potential lawsuits, including one from the parent of a five-year-old

Chris Stokel-Walker
FFWD
Published in
4 min readOct 30, 2019

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Image: Ryan’s World/YouTube and Chris Stokel-Walker

Nearly two months ago, YouTube announced it had settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for collecting and tracking personal details of minors without first notifying parents and getting their consent. The settlement ended with YouTube paying $170 million to the FTC — the largest-ever fine levied in the 21-year history of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

YouTube, alongside Cartoon Network, Hasbro, Dreamworks, Mattel, and three massive child-focused YouTube channels —Indian-based ChuChu TV, U.S.-based Ryan Toys Review (which recently rebranded to Ryan’s World), and CookieSwirlC, which has 12 million subscribers — have been named as defendants in a lawsuit from an angry parent filed this month in the Northern California District Court.

Nichole Hubbard, the mother of a five-year-old child who is named in the documents as C.H., alleges that the various defendants have “collected C.H.’s personal information for the purposes of tracking, profiling, and targeting C.H. with advertisements” — in essence, that YouTube and the channels allegedly breached COPPA by “caus[ing] the personal information of children viewing their channels to be collected for the purpose of creating individual profiles for those minors to enable Defendants to subject the minors to targeted advertisements based on their profiles.”

The lawsuit is explicitly tied to that FTC settlement, mentioned in the complaint filed in the district court. Hubbard argues that both YouTube and the owners of the channels knew they were targeting kids.

“Plaintiff’s minor child, C.H., watched many of the monetized YouTube channels during the Class Period, including those owned by the Channel Owner Defendants. While C.H. viewed videos on the YouTube Platform, defendants unlawfully collected C.H.’s Personal Information, including persistent identifiers, and delivered targeted advertisements to C.H. intended to influence C.H.’s behavior,” part of the claim…

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Chris Stokel-Walker
FFWD
Editor for

UK-based freelancer for The Guardian, The Economist, BuzzFeed News, the BBC and more. Tell me your story, or get me to write for you: stokel@gmail.com