As a librarian, I first became aware of COPPA—the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act—when installing ebook kiosks in middle school libraries. The kiosks would send users (email or text) links to titles they discovered. Suddenly red flags went up: it’s a bad idea to collect kids’ phone numbers without their parents knowing about it. (We moved the kiosks to the high schools and community colleges.)
Last fall, Google was fined $170 million for flagrant violations of COPPA on YouTube, where cookies were tracking kids’ activity and using that information to serve up targeted advertising. Google could afford to shrug off the fine, but the real point was a promise to do better, and this week, those better policies went into effect.
- YouTube starts limiting ad targeting and data collection on kids content [TechCrunch] “Reduced data collection means no targeted ads. And targeted ads are much more valuable than ordinary ones. So this is effectively a huge revenue hit to anyone making children’s content.”
- YouTube decides it’s easier to treat all watchers of kids’ content as kids [ArsTechnica] “Individual video creators themselves are also now personally on the hook for penalties of up to $42,350 if they fail to explicitly mark their videos as for children.”
- Better protecting kids’ privacy on YouTube [Official YouTube Blog] “We also use machine learning to help us identify this content, and creators can update a designation made by our systems if they believe it is incorrect. We will only override a creator designation if abuse or error is detected.”
- The FTC’s 2020 COPPA rules have YouTube creators scared [ArsTechnica] “Many creators fear that YouTube’s handling of the new ‘child-directed’ content largely amounts to putting said content—to quote the late, great Douglas Adams—on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory, with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.'”
From the Ohio Web Library:
- Kohne, Natasha G., et al. “Landmark FTC Settlement Offers Important Lessons for Businesses That May Collect or Use Children’s Information.” Computer & Internet Lawyer, vol. 37, no. 1, Jan. 2020, pp. 18–20.
- Siegel, Lee. “The Kids Aren’t Alright.” Newsweek, vol. 160, no. 16, Oct. 2012, p. 18.
- “INTERNET PRIVACY AND DATA SECURITY: Additional Federal Authority Could Enhance Consumer Protection and Provide Flexibility.” GAO Reports, Mar. 2019, p. 1.