SAN FRANCISCO – Google will pay $150 million to $200 million to settle a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over how it treats information from children on its YouTube video site, according to a published report Friday.
The FTC has reportedly been investigating YouTube for violating a law designed to protect children online. Politico said the FTC voted 3-2 along party lines to approve the fine to settle the case. The report said the matter now goes to the Justice Department for review.
Federal law typically requires parental consent before online services can collect information about children under 13.
The FTC’s investigation into YouTube reportedly looked into how YouTube collects data to serve personalized ads. The company says the service is intended for people ages 13 and older, but it also has many popular kids-focused video channels.
The FTC and Google declined to comment.
YouTube has a separate app for kids, and it launched a website version of YouTube Kids this week. The site asks children to get parental consent to start viewing and offers a simple math problem as a way to gauge whether the person unlocking the website is really an adult. YouTube says it doesn’t target ads to individuals’ interests on its children’s service.
The FTC’s scrutiny of YouTube comes as Google and other big tech companies are under the microscope for the way they sell and store customers’ personal information. Facebook recently agreed to pay $5 billion to settle privacy charges.
But the settlement against YouTube may not go far enough for many children’s privacy advocates. The Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocacy group, said the reported amount against YouTube is “woefully low.”
Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who helped write the children’s privacy law, said he was disappointed.
“Once again, this FTC appears to have let a powerful company off the hook with a nominal fine for violating users’ privacy online,” he said in a statement.