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Google to pay up to $200m in FTC fine

By Lawrence Gash

Google has reportedly agreed to pay between $150m and $200m as part of a Federal Trade Commission settlement. The FTC found that Google’s video-sharing platform YouTube broke privacy laws through the collection of children’s data and could inflict further fines as part of the settlement.

Politico has reported that FTC commissioners voted by a ratio of 3 to 2 to approve the agreement which is subject to review by the Justice Department.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mandates companies to ask for parental consent before collecting personal data from users under the age of 13.

In June, Democrat Senator Edward Markey requested that the FTC investigated YouTube for COPPA violations.

Markey suggested that Google should submit to a yearly publicly published audit from a third party auditor to make sure that collection of children’s data was not recurring.

He further suggested that YouTube Kids bans targeted and influencer marketing directed at children, especially through popular Toy Review channels.

In June reports emerged that YouTube was considering shifting all children’s content from YouTube to YouTube Kids.

Youtube is also ready to consider disabling the platform’s recommendation feature for children’s programmes and to stop targeting ads based on young users data.

This FTC fine follows a $5.7m fine in February for the video sharing app TikTok for collection of children’s data without parental approval and the record $5bn fine against Facebook for privacy violations.

Markey decried the influence of the Republican majority on the Commission and observed that the $200m fine against Google was not punitive enough, stating: The Commission appears poised to once again come out with a partisan settlement that falls short of the Commission’s responsibility to consumers and risks normalising corporate bad behaviour.

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