There has been gossip about an imminent settlement between Google/YouTube and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for some time now. The latest burst of reports suggests that YouTube will be paying between $150m and $200m in fines, as part of settlement of charges relating to children’s privacy – and specifically to data collection and targeting on YouTube. Politico reported that the FTC approved the settlement late last week, and has passed it on to the US Department of Justice.
The figures being reported are considerably higher than the $5.7m that Musical.ly (now TikTok) agreed to pay in February, in a similar case brought by the FTC under the US’ COPPA child-privacy legislation. However, there is already criticism that even $200m is not that big a punishment for a company of YouTube’s scale.
“They should levy a fine which both levels the playing field, and serves as a deterrent to future COPPA violations. This fine would do neither,” claimed Josh Golin of lobbying group the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, in an interview with Politico, slamming the fine as “the equivalent of two to three months of YouTube ad revenue”. Let’s bear in mind that the FTC has yet to formally announce the YouTube settlement: there will be more details to come, for example of how YouTube has promised to avoid such infractions in future.