YouTube has been fined $170m to settle allegations that it had collected the personal information of thousands of children in the US, without their parents’ consent.
The Federal Trade Commission fined Google $136m and the company will pay an additional $34m to New York state to resolve similar allegations, in what is the largest fine the agency has yet brought against Google.
The FTC has been investigating YouTube for the way it handles the data of users under the age of 13. Young children in the US are protected by federal law that requires personal consent before companies can collect and share their personal information.
“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” FTC chairman, Joel Simons said, noting that when it came to complying with the law protecting children’s privacy “the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids.
“There’s no excuse for YouTube’s violations of the law.”
Reported by the Guardian, YouTube has its own app for children, called YouTube Kids. The company also launched a website version of the service in August. The site says it requires parental consent and uses simple math problems to ensure that kids aren’t signing in on their own.
It’s been noted that the fine will barely register on the scale of Google’s wealth. Its parent company Alphabet made a profit of $30.7bn on revenue of $136.8bn last year.