YouTube reaches settlement with U.S. on children’s privacy

Juliana Sanchez, 5, and her brother, Francisco Sanchez Jr., 2, watch children's programming on YouTube on their parents' cellphones.
(Gary Reyes / TNS)

YouTube reached a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission resolving allegations that the company violated rules about collecting data on and advertising to children, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The FTC’s five-member commission voted to approve the settlement, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter is confidential. Details of the agreement couldn’t be learned.

The settlement resolves a probe into whether the Google video service broke the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which makes it illegal to collect information on minors and disclose it to others without parental permission. A group of activists last year asked the FTC to look into the matter. The FTC declined to comment. YouTube also declined to comment.

YouTube is considering more changes to how it handles content for kids, according to a different person familiar with the company’s discussions. One remedy the FTC has discussed is limiting advertising on videos aimed at kids. YouTube has faced rising criticism about content for children. The company introduced a kids app in 2015, but older children tend to watch the main site, according to a Bloomberg report this year.


Last year, a coalition of more than 20 child advocacy and privacy groups filed a complaint with the FTC, alleging YouTube knowingly collected data on and pushed ads to children younger than 13. YouTube technically doesn’t allow children to have accounts on the site and discourages them from watching without parental supervision.

The youth market is hard to ignore for internet companies. YouTube doesn’t share sales, but the research firm Loup Ventures estimates that 5%, or roughly $750 million a year, of the video site’s annual revenue comes from content aimed at children.

McLauglin writes for Bloomberg.