The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on Wednesday that it is fining Google $170 million. The decision comes after the agency’s investigation into YouTube’s violation of children’s privacy law. In the settlement, the FTC and the New York attorney general alleged that Google marketed its video platform, YouTube to advertisers, despite knowing that many channels are popular with younger audiences.
The settlement also alleged that the company tracked the viewing histories of children in order to serve them ads. Both of these allegations violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The fine is the largest COPPA fine to date overtaking the fine imposed on TikTok’s parent company received in February.
In a statement, FTC Chairman Joe Simons said, “YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients. Yet when it came to complying with COPPA, the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids. There’s no excuse for YouTube’s violations of the law.”
The settlement also requires that Google make new changes to its business practices, like requiring creators to label content that is intended for younger audiences and halting the data collection on videos that clearly targets minors. YouTube also said that comments and notifications will no longer be available on children’s content like this. The platform will also stop showing targeted ads on this kind of content.
Responding to the settlement, YouTube wrote in a blog post, “Starting in four months, we will treat data from anyone watching children’s content on YouTube as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user. This means that we will limit data collection and use on videos made for kids only to what is needed to support the operation of the service.”