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Watchdog Group Files Claim that YouTube is Violating Kids' Privacy Rights and Will Have to Answer to the FTC

Marion Charatan

Posted on April 14, 2018 17:26

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The video sharing and social media website YouTube is challenged by more than 20 consumer advocacy groups for violating privacy rights of children ages 12 and under.

It seems like nothing is sacred anymore -- even the rights of children to have their privacy protected. This time the social media giant YouTube on the hot seat.

An article by Business Reporter Sapna Maheshwari, from The New York Times April 9 edition, spells it all out and it’s disturbing. According to a coalition of more than 20 consumer protection groups, a complaint will be filed shortly with the Federal Trade Commission that YouTube, the audio video sharing website, blatantly violated a children’s privacy law.

The immensely popular YouTube was created in 2005 by three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Jawed Karim and Steve Chen. Google bought the site from the entrepreneurs in November 2006 for a whopping $1.65 billion. YouTube is now a Google subsidiary.

The complaint alleges that YouTube published personal information about young children on its main site. Not only did they collect data but the group alleges the service profited from that data, too. However, the video streaming service argued that the platform is intended to be used by viewers 13 or older.

Consumer advocacy groups said YouTube did not comply with The Children’s Online Privacy Act- a federal law mandating parental consent before the release of any information about young kids.  

See: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/09/business/media/youtube-kids-ftc-complaint.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FYouTube&action=click&contentCollection=business&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection

In an article she wrote a few days earlier, Maheshwari also pointed out that sometimes materials evade filters and that can be disturbing for kids to watch. She cited an example of a 10-minute clip, “PAW Patrol Babies Pretend to Die Suicide by Annabelle Hypnotized,” which featured death scenes; not suitable for very young viewers.

 “Google has been continually growing its child-directed service in the United States and all over the world without any kind of acknowledgment of this law and its responsibilities,” said Executive Director of the Center for Digital Democracy Jeffrey Chester, a group heading the coalition. YouTube has referred young children to its YouTube Kids app, which contains a filtered set of videos from the main site.

YouTube execs emphasize the delineation between their main YouTube and YouTube Kids. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 was revised in 2012 by the Federal Trade Commission to include mobile devices.

The change made it clear and emphasized parental consent must be received before collecting any information that could be used to contact, identify or locate a child. This definition was expanded to include photographs, audio, video as well as the location of a child’s mobile device.

We as a society have a moral and legal obligation to protect our young children; irregardless of revenue that could be missed by ignoring the law. The world is tough enough. Let’s do all we can to minimize that chance for any child to become the potential victim of a predator.

Publishing images or giving out information on our children's whereabouts creates an environment for possible abuse -- or worse. Given the recent breaches by Facebook and Equifax, let's get more proactive to ensure the public's privacy is guarded.  Enough is enough.

Marion Charatan

Posted on April 14, 2018 17:26

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Source: Forbes

The authors of 'Business Is Business' offer reality checks to parents and siblings about working in a family business.

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