On September 4, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission announced $170 million settlement with Google LLC and its subsidiary YouTube, LLC, resolving the FTC’s investigation of alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by YouTube. The investigation was initiated in April 2018 following a Request to Investigate filed with the FTC by twenty-two digital privacy and consumer advocacy groups alleging that YouTube collects personal information – including geolocation, unique device identifiers, mobile telephone numbers, and persistent identifiers that can be used to recognize a user over time and across different websites and online services – from children under the age of 13, without appropriate parental consent.
The proposed settlement, which still requires court approval, includes a $34 million payment to New York, and a $136 million penalty to the FTC – the FTC’s largest penalty for a COPPA violation to-date. The settlement also requires Google and YouTube to develop, implement and maintain a system that would permit channel owners to identify content directed at children on YouTube so that it can ensure compliance with COPPA. Pursuant to the terms of the settlement, Google and YouTube must also provide notice about their data collection practices and obtain verifiable parental consent prior to the collection of personal information from children.