Tue, Apr 10, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Groups seek YouTube probe over ads targeting children

AFP, WASHINGTON

Consumer and activist groups yesterday called for an investigation into Google-owned YouTube for allowing advertising to be targeted at children in apparent violation of US law.

The organizations said that although YouTube claims that the site is only for users aged 13 and older, Google generates significant profits from child-targeted advertising on the video-sharing service.

Twenty-three groups signed a complaint to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), arguing that YouTube is among the most popular online platforms for children and offers many programs designed and promoted for children.

According to the complaint, Google collects personal information about minors on YouTube, including location, unique device identifiers and mobile telephone numbers, and uses that to target advertisements to children across the Internet, apparently without their parents’ consent.

It said that YouTube contains child-oriented channels such as “ChuChu TV Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs,” with millions of subscribers, and that advertisers pay Google a premium to place their ads on a “parenting and family” lineup including channels aimed at children.

“For years, Google has abdicated its responsibility to children and families by disingenuously claiming that YouTube — a site rife with popular cartoons, nursery rhymes and toy ads — is not for children under 13,” said Josh Golin of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, one of the groups filing the complaint.

Golin added: “Google profits immensely by delivering ads to children and must comply with COPPA,” the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

A Google spokesman said the company had not seen the complaint, but that “protecting kids and families has always been a top priority for us.”

Other groups signing the FTC complaint included Common Sense, Consumer Action, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

COPPA, passed by the US Congress in 1998, restricts Web sites’ handling of data and advertising for children. Several Web site operators have faced fines for violations, including Yelp and a unit of Walt Disney Co.

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