YouTube, the Google video platform, has been accused of mining the personal data of millions of young kids who use the site. Over 20 advocacy and privacy groups banded together to file the complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that the popular video website has been collecting the data of users under the age of 13, a clear violation of U.S. child protection laws.
Under the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), companies are required to notify parents and receive consent before they can begin collecting any data about children younger than 13. According to the complaint, however, YouTube and Google have been collecting both phone numbers and location data on kids. Typically, websites use this information to target ads toward specific users.
“Google has made substantial profits from the collection and use of personal data from children on YouTube. Its illegal collection has been going on for many years and involves tens of millions of U.S. children,” reads the complaint, which was submitted by a coalition led by the Center for Digital Democracy and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
The coalition that filed the complaint is demanding that YouTube pay billions of dollars in fines for the massive invasion of privacy.
“Just like Facebook, Google has focused its huge resources on generating profits instead of protecting privacy,” says Jeff Chester, a member of the Center for Digital Democracy.
Since its founding in 2005, YouTube has steadily grown to become one of the most popular websites in the world. With this complaint, however, it’s now the latest online behemoth caught in a controversy surrounding data collecting. Last month, Facebook found itself in hot water when it was discovered that Cambridge Analytica, a data mining company, may have harvested the data from over 50 million Facebook profiles.