YouTube Ordered to Pay $200 Million in Settlement for Violating a Children’s Privacy Law

YouTube has been ordered to pay a lump sum of cash in order to settle an investigation on possible children’s privacy violations. According to Politico, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted to have YouTube’s parent company, Google, dole out between $150 to 200 million dollars to settle the lawsuit.

Privacy groups brought the case to the FTC, accusing YouTube of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal information about minors and using it to target advertisements without getting consent from parents.

Critics of the fine were enraged as they see the settlement as a mere slap on the wrist, that doesn’t hold YouTube to its maximum culpability. “Once again, this FTC appears to have let a powerful company off the hook with a nominal fine for violating users’ privacy online,”stated Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), who has been advocating for an investigation of potential COPPA violations at YouTube. “We owe it to kids to come down hard on companies that infringe on children’s’ privacy and violate federal law.”

The settlement comes a month after Facebook was ordered to pay $5 billion for privacy violations in connection to Cambridge Analytica and other data breaches. To date, it’s the largest fine the FTC has filed against a tech company.

In response to the fine, YouTube revealed a new web portal for YouTube Kids, along with a set of more discerning content filters, The Verge reports. The platform has also enforced an explicit ban on violent or “mature” videos that appear to be marketed toward children. YouTube also banned targeted ads on children’s videos, making them less profitable for creators and possibly jeopardizing that genre of YouTube content.