The Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General announced today that Google will pay $170 million over alleged children’s privacy violations on YouTube. In response, the video service will be implementing a number of changes related to kids.
The regulatory agency and state of New York alleged that Google violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by obtaining “illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent.”
In a complaint filed against the companies, the FTC and New York Attorney General allege that YouTube violated the COPPA Rule by collecting personal information—in the form of persistent identifiers that are used to track users across the Internet—from viewers of child-directed channels, without first notifying parents and getting their consent. YouTube earned millions of dollars by using the identifiers, commonly known as cookies, to deliver targeted ads to viewers of these channels, according to the complaint.
In four months, YouTube will assume anyone watching children’s content to be a kid. Data collection will be limited as a result, while creators will be required to classify when videos are for younger audiences. Machine learning will also be leveraged to find clips that have an “emphasis on kids characters, themes, toys, or games.”
We will also stop serving personalized ads on this content entirely, and some features will no longer be available on this type of content, like comments and notifications.
As detailed last week, YouTube Kids is coming to the desktop web. Meant for kids under 13, Google will begin promoting and educating parents about the optimized experience. YouTube recognizes how these changes will have a “significant business impact on family and kids creators.”
The next four months will be a transition period, with Google providing “resources to help them better understand these changes.” This notably includes a $100 million fund that will be “disbursed over three years, dedicated to the creation of thoughtful, original children’s content on YouTube and YouTube Kids globally.”
The last change involves a “new, mandatory annual training” for YouTube teams working on child-related functionality.