Last year, CCFC, Center for Digital Democracy, and our lawyers at Georgetown Law’s IPR filed an FTC complaint detailing how Google illegally collects, uses, and profits off of kids’ personal information on YouTube. And this week, after 18 months of putting pressure on policymakers, we got results: the FTC announced a landmark settlement with YouTube and Google that will ban behavioral advertising and limit data collection on child-directed channels.
As FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra explained, behavioral advertising targets “a demographic of one.” Using masses of user data, Google can “psychologically profile each user and predict in real time what content will be most engaging and which ads will be most persuasive.” That’s why it’s illegal to collect personal information from, and deliver behavioral advertising to, kids under 13 without getting explicit parental consent.
But that’s exactly what Google and YouTube have been doing every day for years: spying on and delivering targeted ads to millions of children, illegally and unchecked. And now, they can’t anymore. Or, to put it another way:
As a direct result of CCFC’s advocacy, the number one kids’ website in the world will soon have significantly less surveillance and kid-targeted behavioral advertising.
The settlement is far from perfect. We’re analyzing its shortcomings and in the coming months, you’ll hear from us about next steps. And as YouTube rolls out its new changes, our child development experts and parent educators will offer advice to families on watching (or not watching!) the revamped YouTube.
But for now, let’s all take a moment to celebrate what we’ve accomplished together on behalf of children.