FTC’s Paltry Google/YouTube COPPA Settlement Fails to Protect Kids

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: Google reportedly has agreed to pay between $150 million and $200 million to resolve a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into YouTube over alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Under COPPA, the children’s privacy law, the FTC had authority to impose tens of billions in fines against Google for YouTube’s improper corporate surveillance of children, targeted advertising to kids and failure to alert parents what it was up to. In light of the company’s enormous wealth and allegedly egregious violations of COPPA – likely involving improper collection of information on tens of millions of children – a penalty of no more than $200 million utterly fails to protect children’s rights. It neither punishes Google adequately nor deters Google or other companies from future violations.

Public Citizen will continue to work with partners like the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to protect children’s privacy, but what we really need – what kids need – is for government regulators to do their jobs. In this crucial case, it appears they have not. It does not appear that the FTC is up to the job of protecting the privacy of children or adults. This case provides still more evidence supporting the case for Congress to create a new data protection agency.