YouTube, Google, and Twitter crack down on peaceful
channels, censor alternative
media, and allow child
exploitation videos to flourish, New
Mexico has filed a lawsuit against them and several app
developers for illegally collecting data from children under the
age of 13 without parental consent.
to UPI, New Mexico Attorney General Balderas said
the companies are violating the 1998 Children’s Online
Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal law, by collecting and
selling the data on children.
apps can track where children live, play, and go to school with
incredible precision,” Balderas said of the insidious practice. “These
multi-million-dollar tech companies partnering with app
developers are taking advantage of New Mexican children, and the
unacceptable risk of data breach and access from third parties
who seek to exploit and harm our children will not be tolerated
in New Mexico.”
Lab Productions, MoPub, AerServ, InMobi PTE, AppLovin and
IronSource are also named in the lawsuit.
lawsuit comes on the heals of a study that showed over 6,000 apps
violate COPPA regulations.
the Free Thought Project reported earlier this year, YouTube was
already found to be in violation of COPPA when an independent
coalition of advocacy groups conducted their own investigation.
coalition is made up of groups including the Campaign for a
Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), the Center for Digital Democracy
and 21 other organizations. Within their complaint, the coalition
alleges that despite Google claiming YouTube is only for children
13-years-old and over—it knows younger children use the site and
it targets them—illegally.
to COPPA, it is illegal for any operator of a website or
online service or a portion thereof that is directed to children,
or that has actual knowledge that it collects information from
children, from collecting, using or disclosing personal
information from a child unless the operator gives parents notice
of its data collection practices and obtains verifiable parental
consent before collecting the data.
according to the complaint filed by the coalition, Google is
knowingly violating this law.
to the complaint:
also has actual knowledge that many children are on YouTube, as
disclosures from content providers, public statements by YouTube
executives, and the creation of the YouTube Kids app, which
provides additional access to many of the children’s channels on
YouTube. YouTube even encourages content creators to create
children’s programs for YouTube. Through the YouTube Partner
Program, YouTube and creators split revenues from advertisements
discloses that it collects many types of personal information,
including geolocation, unique device identifiers, mobile
telephone numbers, and persistent identifiers used to recognize
a user over time and across different websites or online
collects this information from children under the age of 13,
and uses it to target advertisements, without giving notice or
obtaining advanced, verifiable parental consent
as required by COPPA.
coalition is now asking that the FTC step in and investigate the
internet giant for these violations.
years, Google has abdicated its responsibility to kids and
families by disingenuously claiming YouTube — a site rife with
popular cartoons, nursery rhymes, and toy ads — is not for
children under 13,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the
CCFC, as reported by the Guardian at the time. “Google profits
immensely by delivering ads to kids and must comply with Coppa. It’s
time for the FTC to hold Google accountable for its illegal data
collection and advertising practices.”
Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy said, “Google has
acted duplicitously by falsely claiming in its terms of service
that YouTube is only for those who are age 13 or older, while it
deliberately lured young people into an ad-filled digital
Facebook, Google has focused its huge resources on generating
profits instead of protecting privacy.”
TFTP has reported numerous times, children are the last ones
YouTube appears to be concerned with, instead targeting those
who’d dare challenge the status quo.
The Free Thought Project first reported in
June of 2017, comedian Daniel Tosh raised concerns with
objectionable content found on YouTube. Tosh revealed how the “Seven Super Girls” channel—while
it is geared to teenage content creators—likely also serves as eye
candy for pedophiles looking to indulge in streaming videos of
real kids in compromising situations. The channel remains active
artist and writer James Bridle noted in an article last year,
detailing the vast industry of low-quality, algorithmically-guided
children’s content created for youtube: “Someone
or something or some combination of people and things is using
YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatize, and abuse
children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to
question my own beliefs about the internet, at every
as this complaint and the recent lawsuit allege, these social
media giants may very well be complicit in that exploitation.