FTC finalizing fine for Google illegally tracking children


TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Hot off the heels of the $5 billion fine for Facebook's repeated privacy breaches, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly finalizing a multimillion dollar fine for YouTube.

An investigation by the FTC reportedly concluded that Google failed to protect children using YouTube and collected their data, in breach of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The act prohibits data collection and targeting of children aged 13 and under. Two sources have confirmed the news to The Washington Post, though both Google and the FTC have refused to comment. The next stage requires the Justice Department to agree to the undisclosed fine and any associated conditions, though the Department rarely goes against FTC rulings.

The recent Facebook fine came with some conditions attached, notably requiring greater documentation of potential privacy concerns and getting confirmation from company executives that adequate regard was being paid to how personal data is used in future. It seems likely that the FTC's action against Google will come with similar stipulations.

Given that tracking and data collection are fundamentals of how platforms such as YouTube operate, it's tricky to say how Google should change their practices for under 13s. With videos for very young children, often such content is visited through parents' accounts with an adult present, so tracking may be perfectly legal. Plus children under 13 aren't meant to be allowed to have their own accounts, so account-tracking should be fine. But the reality is somewhat different, as kids between about 7 and 13 are likely to be viewing content regardless of any of YouTube's own policies.

Once details of the settlement are public, it will be interesting to see what the additional requirements are, and how Google plans to implement them.

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TS Maniac
"FTC finalizing fine for Google"....in other words finding the lowest, most pathetic fine they could find and act as if they're really hurting Google and protecting the public.


TechSpot Addict
The amount is irrelevant. Since it doesn't go toward compensating the victims.
Always a relevant but sadly always evaded question, "where the heck does that money go"? I know the EU's been raking it in hand over fist from fines also, and that money disappears almost instantly as well.

It's pretty much a given that Google has an army of tax lawyers, to insure they pay as little business taxes as is possible. Even with huge fines levied upon then, it likely only barely brings them up to paying still under their "fair share" of income tax.

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
I'll say it again. Until these fine structures are measured in percentage of gross revenues those companies will gladly pay it and write it down as another "cost of doing business". Now it you hit them for 75 to 100% of the gross revenues for the period of the infraction, that will certainly get their attention and after the first time they will all either straighten up or get a LOT better at doing it, at which time the fine can always be made larger.


TS Redneck
So, you're saying there should be no fine or fine them a dollar or so....UNLESS the victims are compensated??
In a way yes I am. It is borderline to someone stopping a bank robbery because it is taking from the people. And then deciding to keep the money for themselves as compensation for their trouble. While the people continue to be victims from the loss. It makes the government just as guilty as those they fight to take down. In fact they want to continue fining in the future. So they don't actually want the offenses to stop.