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Child protection coalition demands FTC probe into YouTube data collection

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YouTube is at the heart of a complaint filed by child protection groups which are demanding an FTC probe into the platform's data collection practices.

According to a complaint[1] filed with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a coalition of consumer and privacy groups have accused YouTube of violating child protection laws by using data collected from under 13's for marketing purposes.

The Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Center for Media Justice, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Federation of California, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse are among the complainants.

The coalition has asked the consumer watchdog to launch an investigation into Google, which owns YouTube, for "violating children's privacy laws in operating the YouTube online video and advertising network services."

"Google has made substantial profits from the collection and use of personal data from children on YouTube," the complaint reads. "Its illegal collection has been going on for many years and involves tens of millions of US children. The parties request that the FTC enjoin Google from committing further violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ("COPPA"), impose effective means for monitoring compliance, and assess civil penalties that demonstrate that the FTC will not permit violations of COPPA."

COPPA[2] is a set of regulations which bind websites and operators with users that are under 13 years of age, as well as those which may be collecting data from children.

If minors are users or website visitors, data cannot be collected, used or disclosed without parental knowledge and consent.

The coalition alleges that YouTube -- which boasts a massive selection of child-friendly content and an app[3]

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