Google: Apparently agreement with FTC in dispute over tracking of children on YouTube


In Europe, Google has already had to pay one or two penalties imposed by the European Commission. But in the USA, too, Google is now facing a payment in the millions. This is due to the tracking of children on YouTube. This is not allowed under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), but was practiced in this way. This is what the Federal Trade Commission has called on the plan with which Google has now reached an agreement, according to the Washington Post.

While the exact amount of the payment is unknown (it doesn’t seem to be a penalty if one has agreed), it is said to be in the millions. For a company with profits in the billions, it’s rather something for the petty cash. Google already reacted during the investigation and blocked content for children, for example for comments. They are also considering a complete outsourcing of content.

In this case, however, the point is that children under the age of 13 were tracked. Google justifies this by saying that the content is actually intended for an older audience, but that children can watch it with their parents’ permission. But it was not possible to check whether permission had actually been obtained. However, the law only provides protection for pages and applications that are directed directly at children, or of which the provider actually knows that they are used by children.

Google will not hurt the payment too much. And that is perhaps a bit of the problem. The big tech companies can do something first and then, if anyone complains at all, apologize afterwards for the misconduct by paying a small fee. The “damage done” remains, but is forgotten until the next “Ooooops”. Of course Google is not alone, the whole industry doesn’t take much and the general user doesn’t care enough.


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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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