The companies allegedly collected information of children viewing videos on YouTube by tracking users of channels that are directed at kids. YouTube allegedly failed to notify parents or get their consent, violating laws that protect children’s privacy, according to a complaint filed against the companies by the FTC and the New York attorney general.
YouTube earned millions of dollars by then using this information to target ads to the children, according to the complaint.
“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement. “Yet when it came to complying with (the children privacy law), the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids. There’s no excuse for YouTube’s violations of the law.”
According to the complaint, YouTube marketed itself as a top destination for kids in presentations to the makers of popular children’s products and brands.
For example, Google and YouTube told Mattel, maker of Barbie and Monster High toys, that “YouTube is today’s leader in reaching children age 6-11 against top TV channels” and told Hasbro, which makes My Little Pony and Play-Doh, that YouTube is the “#1 website regularly visited by kids.”