YouTube Accused Of Illegally Collecting Children's Data

9 April 2018, 16:56 | Updated: 13 April 2018, 17:28

youtube under 13s data
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Benedict Townsend

By Benedict Townsend

The data includes phone numbers, personal locations and device data

A group made up of 23 child advocacy, consumer and privacy groups has accused of YouTube's parent company Google of violating child protection laws by collecting personal information on children under the age of 13 and using it to create advertising for them.

According to the group, YouTube has been collecting personal information from children that includes their location and phone numbers and also works to track them across different websites and services - a tactic used by companies to create targeted adverts.

The reason why the age of the children is significant is because YouTube states that you cannot join the site unless you are over the age of 13. However, this group alleges that YouTube is well aware that there are users on the site younger than 13, and takes their data anyway.

In their official complaint, the coalition alleges that: “YouTube... has actual knowledge that many children are on YouTube, as evidenced by disclosures from content providers, public statements by YouTube executives, and the creation of the YouTube Kids app”.

The group says: “for years, Google has abdicated its responsibility to kids and families by disingenuously claiming YouTube — a site rife with popular cartoons, nursery rhymes, and toy ads — is not for children under 13,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the CCFC. “Google profits immensely by delivering ads to kids and must comply with Coppa. It’s time for the FTC (the Federal Trade Commission) to hold Google accountable for its illegal data collection and advertising practices.”

The Guardian reports that a YouTube spokesperson responded to the accusations with the following statement: "A YouTube spokesperson said: “While we haven’t received the complaint, protecting kids and families has always been a top priority for us. We will read the complaint thoroughly and evaluate if there are things we can do to improve. 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.”