For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Ed Mierzwinski, Senior Director, U.S. PIRG Federal Consumer Program, 202-461-3821, edm@pirg.org
Josh Chetwynd, Communications Manager, 303-573-5558, josh.chetwynd@publicinterestnetwork.org 

Google to Pay Disappointing $170 Million Fine Over YouTube’s Sale and Tracking of Ads Aimed at Children

If FTC can’t protect kids from YouTube manipulation, how will it protect everyone if a new federal privacy law is passed?

WASHINGTON - Google will pay a $170 million penalty to settle claims that YouTube “illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent” through its advertising practices, the Federal Trade Commission announced today. U.S. PIRG was a party to the original 2018 complaint led by the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood that resulted in the FTC’s investigation and today’s settlement.

Edmund Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG senior director for Federal Consumer Program, issued the following statement on the FTC’s Children’s Privacy (COPPA) settlement with Google and YouTube:

“The FTC gave Google and YouTube a light slap on the wrist for myriad violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It’s deeply disappointing that the commission had a strong law to enforce against a powerful, recidivist wrongdoer accused of baiting children with nursery rhymes and cartoons to serve its advertising needs and opted to give Google what amounts to a parking ticket. 

“Of course, this is exactly what lobbyists for ‘big tech’, the phone and cable companies and the digital advertising ecosystem want. They are seeking the enactment of a weak federal privacy law that preempts the states. But this would be a catastrophe because this settlement shows that if the FTC can’t even protect kids from YouTube manipulation, how will it protect everyone if a new federal privacy law is passed?”

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U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.

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