YouTube challenged on collecting children’s data

YouTube has been accused of breaching UK data privacy rules by collecting data related to the viewing habits of children under 13 years old.

Campaigner Duncan McCann lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) alleging that the Alphabet-owned video sharing platform is collecting data about the videos children watch.

YouTube responded by saying it was committed to protecting children and families from harmful content, and that it treated all children’s content as though children are watching it, whether or not it is viewed on an adult’s account.

The main YouTube is not intended for use by children under 13 years old, who are directed to the YouTube Kids app. However, McCann has alleged that YouTube is gathering data about kids viewing illegitimately because children often watch content on shared devices under an adult’s account.

The ICO children’s code, introduced in 2020, provides for a high degree of privacy for children to protect them, for example, from targeted advertising.

YouTube has previously been fined in the US for breaching children’s privacy rules.

In 2019 the Federal Trade Commission fined the outfit US$170 million for collecting data without parental consent.

According to the FTC, the data was used to target ads to children in contravention of the 1998 Chidren’s Online Privacy Act.

Commenting on the UK case, Jonathan Compton, a partner at law practice DMH Stallard and an expert on UK data protection rules, said: “The ICO has a range of powers and penalties at its disposal.  It can serve an Enforcement, an Assessment or an Information Notice – requiring the delivery up of documents and information – and a power to levy a fine of up to £17.5m or 4% of worldwide turnover, whichever is the higher. Those faced with an investigation are better advised to co-operate and enter into voluntary arrangements with the ICO if at all possible.”

Tags: Alphabet, ICO, UK, YouTube

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