YouTube, Google Collection and Using Minors’ Info Massachusetts Class Action

“Certain YouTube channels are plainly directed to children under the age of thirteen,” says the complaint for this class action. In fact, it claims that Google, the owner of YouTube, is collecting and exploiting information on minors for gain. The complaint alleges violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, and Massachusetts state laws.

The class for this action is all children living in Massachusetts who, at a time when they were under 13, viewed videos on YouTube and from whom the Google Companies collected, used, or disclosed personal information without first obtaining verified parental consent.

YouTube is a platform for the sharing of videos. Advertisers may place ads in connection with channels, and the ad revenue is shared between the channel owners and Google.

Unlike advertising on television, in which the same promotional material is shown to all viewers, You Tube allows something called “behavioral advertising” which the complaint says “serves advertising to particular viewers based on information the platform has concerning that viewer. Such information may include YouTube viewing history and other information the Google Companies have collected through a particular user’s usage of other services, including Google services.

While viewers do not have to sign in to view YouTube videos, they are often logged in automatically, the complaint claims, but they are not logged out automatically when they stop watching YouTube.

Even when viewers are not logged in, the complaint says, Google can track them by using cookies and “mobile advertising identifiers.” Thus viewing habits can be tracked by person.

According to the complaint, “Channel owners can earn revenue not only from behavioral advertising on the YouTube platform itself but also via technologies through which the Google Companies use a viewer’s using history to serve behavioral advertising to a viewer on websites other than YouTube, including both other Google websites and third-party websites that pay Google to access data.”

Certain content on YouTube is targeted at children. For example, Nickelodeon has a YouTube channel with over 7 million subscribers and 3,500 videos. In an advertising presentation to toymaker Mattel, the complaint claims, Google said, “YouTube is today’s leader in reaching children age 6-11 against top TV channels.”

The complaint alleges that the Google Companies don’t “treat channels or video directed to young children any differently for purposes of data collection from other content on YouTube.” That is, the companies continue to monetize channels and earn money from customized advertising based on personal information collected about child users. The complaint alleges that they do not obtain parental consent before collecting and monetizing this information.

According to the complaint, in September 2019, the FTC assessed Google Companies a fine of $170 million, for unfair practices in connection with YouTube, including the collection of children’s personal information. However, none of that fine will go to the children whose information was improperly collected. The idea behind this class action is to obtain compensation for these children or their parents.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

YouTube, Google Collection and Using Minors’ Info Massachusetts Complaint

March 13, 2020

“Certain YouTube channels are plainly directed to children under the age of thirteen,” says the complaint for this class action. In fact, it claims that Google, the owner of YouTube, is collecting and exploiting information on minors for gain. The complaint alleges violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, and Massachusetts state laws.

YouTube, Google Collection and Using Minors’ Info Massachusetts Complaint

Case Event History

YouTube, Google Collection and Using Minors’ Info Massachusetts Complaint

March 13, 2020

“Certain YouTube channels are plainly directed to children under the age of thirteen,” says the complaint for this class action. In fact, it claims that Google, the owner of YouTube, is collecting and exploiting information on minors for gain. The complaint alleges violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, and Massachusetts state laws.

YouTube, Google Collection and Using Minors’ Info Massachusetts Complaint
Tags: Children/Minors, Sharing Personal Information with Third Parties, Your Privacy