On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission voted to settle federal privacy charges against YouTube, as first reported by Politico. The official settlement will likely be made public next week as reported by The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.
The exact terms of the settlement are unclear, but Google will reportedly pay fines between $150 and $200 million. The charges stem from data collection and targeting practices in YouTube, which consumer groups alleged violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), who had long called for an investigation of potential COPPA violations at YouTube, called the fine a partisan settlement.
In a statement Markey said: “Once again, this FTC appears to have let a powerful company off the hook with a nominal fine for violating users privacy online. We owe it to kids to come down hard on companies that infringe on children’s privacy and violate federal law.”
“Under COPPA, the children’s privacy law, the FTC had authority to impose tens of billions in fines against Google,” said consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.
“A penalty of no more than $200 million utterly fails to protect children’s rights. It neither punishes Google adequately nor deters Google or other companies from future violations.”
YouTube has recently unveiled a new web portal for YouTube Kids, along with a set of more discerning content filters. The platform has made a number of policy changes in response to the pending settlement in recent weeks, most notably instituting an explicit ban on violent or mature videos that appear to be marketed toward children.
The video platform has also banned targeted ads on children’s videos, making the videos significantly less lucrative for creators and threatening an entire genre of YouTube content.