YouTube will pay $150m to end FTC privacy probe

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Politico reported this morning that the company will pay NZ$238 million to $317 million to settle the complaint. After gaining FTC approval, the settlement would go on to the U.S. Justice Department for review.

Katharina Kopp, deputy director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said Friday "a settlement amount of $150-200 million would be woefully low, considering the egregious nature of the violation, how much Google profited from violating the law and given Google's size and revenue". Although this fine is a small portion of Google or even YouTube's annual revenue, it is by far the largest Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)-related fine to date. Details about what changes YouTube will need to make were not immediately available. The company says the service is intended for people ages 13 and older, but it also has many popular kids-focused video channels.

Federal law typically requires parental consent before online services can collect information about children under 13.

Google is already taking steps to improve children's privacy, possibly in connection with the reported settlement.

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"Once again, this FTC appears to have let a powerful company off the hook with a nominal fine for violating users' privacy online", he said in a statement. "We owe it to kids to come down hard on companies that infringe on children's' privacy and violate federal law". Asked by The Logic whether YouTube would make the same changes in Canada, Google declined to comment. The company beforehand fined Chinese language social media firm Musical.ly, now TikTok, $5.7 million in February.

The Washington Post reported in July that the FTC was in the late stages of an investigation into YouTube's practices, following complaints from advocacy and consumer groups. YouTube last week announced it was removing videos that target younger minors and families yet contain sexual themes, violence and obscenity that are not suitable for kids.

In response to the fine, YouTube revealed a new web portal for YouTube Kids, along with a set of more discerning content filters, The Verge reports.

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