The US government and Google agreed on Friday that the technology giant pay a huge fine for failing to take appropriate measures to prevent minors having access to inappropriate images and to collect their data on their YouTube video platform.
The agreement (which had the backing of the three Republican members and was rejected by the two Democrats of the Federal Trade Commission) reflects that the video platform owned by Google failed in their control mechanisms. YouTube violated the online protection laws of minors.
The negotiations were carried out by the FTC. The agreement, however, has yet to be approved by the Justice Department. The department usually limits itself to ratifying this type of agreement.
At the moment the exact amount of the fine is unknown. The Washington post says it will be several million dollars.
This lawsuit goes back to April last year, when a coalition of 23 child rights groups reported to the FTC that the technology giant collected personal information from children under 13. The data collected includes location, device identifiers and phone numbers. To add insult to injury, the company tracked them without their consent.
The lawsuit claimed that YouTube used this data to direct ads to minors through its platform and thus profiting from minors.
Initially, the most popular Internet search engine defended itself against these accusations alleging that the YouTube platform is only for people over 13 years old. However the plaintiffs considered that, in reality, there are no control mechanisms to apply this policy and prevent the access of children to the platform.
In fact, Google even has an application dedicated exclusively to children called “YouTube Kids” that launched in 2015. The app is designed to show appropriate content and ads for children.
In this sense, a month ago, The Wall Street Journal said that YouTube is considering removing all children’s contents from its main portal and transfer them to that application. This is as a response to its controversial content management for children.
The idea would be that all content starred by children or directed to this audience will be exclusively in the YouTube Kids application, This would help the firm owned by Alphabet try to avoid further clashes with the FTC.