YouTube violated federal law by collecting personal information about kids and now Google will pay for it.
The Federal Trade Commission said Google – YouTube’s parent company – has agreed to a $170 million fine to settle allegations that it tracked viewers of children’s channels using cookies without parental consent and subsequently using that data to deliver millions of dollars in targeted ads to those viewers.
The penalty is the largest since a law that bans collecting information about children under the age of 13 came into effect in 1998.
According to the complaint, YouTube touted its popularity with children in marketing itself to companies like Mattel and Hasbro. It told Mattel that YouTube is today’s leader in reaching children age six to 11 against top TV channels.
Critics say the fine is just a slap on the wrist for the internet giant since no executives at YouTube or its parent, Google, were penalized, and YouTube neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
The fine comes as big tech companies are facing growing backlash over a slew of privacy violations, including Facebook which reached a $5 billion settlement with the FTC in July over the social network’s handling of users’ data.