David Cicilline and Jeff Fortenberry, two US lawmakers sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai a few weeks ago, asking the company to provide information on how YouTube Collects the Data of Child Users.
In their letter they inferred Youtube’s data Collection practices “may not be in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1988,” (COPPA), Which is a federal law that regulates user data collection from users under 13 Years of age.
The two Reps sent the letter after an alliance of 23 Child privacy groups filed a complaint in April urging the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate Youtube for potentially violating Child online privacy laws. The complaint inferred Youtube is violating COPPA because it collects data on child viewers younger than 13 without the consent of parents. The data collected includes information on their location and what device they are using. The data is then sold to Ad services to create Targeted advertising.
Another point noted on the letter was Youtube’s Terms of Service Forbid anyone under 13 from using the platform, however kids can trick the age restriction protocols by claiming to be older on sign up. They also noted that Google knows children are using the platform as there is a lot of children’s content.
The letter asks for a response from Google detailing whether children’s programs or channels are marked to prevent the collection of data, and if the data collected is used for targeted advertising. It’s also asked how the company determines whether a user is a child or not and requests for a response by October 17.
Youtube recently made a statement in regards to the letter, “Because Youtube is not for children, we’ve invested significantly in the creation of the Youtube Kids App to offer an alternative specifically designed for children. We appreciate all efforts to protect families and children online and look forward to working with members of Congress to answer their questions.”