Google’s settlement with the FTC to pay $150m to $200m fine was criticised as too low and as ‘effectively rewarding’ the company
Google is to pay between $150 million (£124m) and $200m to settle a US Federal Trade Commission probe into YouTube over allegations the company breached a child privacy law.
The FTC voted 3-2 along party lines to approve the settlement and sent it to the Justice Department for review, Politico reported, and other news outlets confirmed.
Details of the settlement were not immediately available ahead of the deal’s planned announcement this week. Google and the FTC declined to comment.
Privacy groups had filed an action with the FTC alleging YouTube had violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) through its collection of data on minors for use in targeting advertisements without the consent of parents.
The previous record fine under COPPA was only $5.7m, levied in February against Musical.ly, a China-based social video app that has become widely popular after rebranding as TikTok.
But critics said the Google settlement was too low and would not serve as a deterrent in future.
“The FTC appears to have let YouTube off the hook with a nominal fine for violating users’ privacy online,” said Senator Ed Markey.
Katharina Kopp, deputy director of the Centre for Digital Democracy, said the fine was “woefully low, considering the egregious nature of the violation, how much Google profited from violating the law, and given Google’s size and revenue”.
The penalty “would effectively reward Google for engaging in massive and illegal data collection”, Kopp added.
The CDC was one of the groups that filed the original complaint with the FTC in April 2018.
US regulators have been criticised for allowing tech companies a relatively free hand, even as European authorities have imposed fines in the billions of pounds on Google and others.
Google last week launched YouTube Kids, allowing parents to choose from three different age groups ranging from preschool to age 12.