GOOGLE IS set to receive yet another fine, this time from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its video-sharing site YouTube.
An investigation was launched after years of complaints from parents who do not feel their children have been sufficiently protected from the darker elements of the site.
At the heart of the problem is data collection of minors - officially, under 13s are supposed to be protected from having personal information harvested by websites. That's why apps like YouTube Kids and Sky Kids have sprung up.
However, there's no compulsion for kids to use them, and many have continued to use the main YouTube app. That means adult data collection rules were applied, meaning that Google unwittingly broke the law Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) every time a child logged on.
According to reports in the Washington Post, the FTC investigation into the practices of YouTube concluded that not enough has been done to protect youngsters and as such, a fine will be forthcoming.
At present, the news isn't official and is coming from sources who aren't at liberty to talk about events in detail.
Meanwhile, for its part, the FTC will be reexamining COPPA and how it's enforced and that could have an effect not just on Google, but on the entire industry. It does give rise to the question of exactly how rules to stop kids from going on the grown-up version of websites is enforceable - because short of having someone standing over every child at a computer, it's going to be a tall order.
The Post's sources suggest that the decision to award a fine was split 3-2 along party lines, but the fine is unlikely to be big enough to be anything more than a minor inconvenience to El Goog, though it may serve as a further red rag to other governments that want to get big tech back in line. μ
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