In a troubling claim lodged with the High Court, YouTube is in hot water again after accusations that Google, the parent company, is collecting children’s data without parental consent.
The alleged breach of privacy could leave YouTube liable to compensate 5 million children affected in the UK up to £500.
This is not the first time YouTube has been caught up in alleged privacy breaches of children. Last year, Google paid out a record $170 million to the Federal Trade Commission and New York for harvesting data without the consent of parents.
If litigation goes ahead, YouTube could make the argument that they are not selling users’ information. They also have YouTube Kids, an app made just for children. Although, this may not sufficiently vindicate them as there is still a thriving community of kids channels on the main platform. ChuChu TV, for instance, has nearly 40 million subscribers. YouTube does include a notification for viewers to try YouTube Kids on these videos, as well as disabling the comment section.
A YouTube spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on pending litigation. YouTube is not for children under the age of 13.”
YouTube may have a tough time fighting back against an alleged privacy breach. In recent years, the main video sharing platform has implemented restrictions that are geared towards family-friendly content – implying a focus on children. This led to some adult creators getting demonetised for use of swearing or problematic speech.
Lesley Hannah from global law firm, Hausfeld, said: ‘This is an incredibly important case. Tech titans such as Google cannot be above the law.’
The Data Protection Act and GDPR gives people the right to choose whether their data is collected and how it is used.
Consumers sometimes unknowingly agree to selling their digital identities to websites upon signing up to use them. This can include the selling and sharing of intimate personal information to third parties and is incredibly important to look into, especially when it comes to protecting the safety of children. In the case of Google, they have terms and conditions for users to agree to. When browsing websites, there are cookie policies detailing the intended purposes of collecting your data.
Social media platforms that generate income through advertising are subject to ongoing abuses of privacy because they sell access to the data to make money. That is the hidden cost of free social media platforms.