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YouTube Urged To Scale Back Advertising To Kids

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A U.S. senator and two consumer privacy groups have urged the Federal Trade Commission or FTC to take action against YouTube following extensive evidence that the Google-owned video site is invading child users' privacy.

In separate letters sent Tuesday to the FTC, Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and consumer privacy groups - the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy - expressed concern over YouTube's practices surrounding children's content.

The FTC is currently investigating YouTube on illegally collecting data about children, after multiple complaints from consumer groups. According to critics, YouTube has collected data about children in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA.

Under COPPA, websites that collect information about children must provide parents with notice of this data collection and also obtain parental consent before collecting any information from children.

However, Markey noted in his letter that YouTube appeared to collect information such as device identifiers and location without providing the requisite notice and obtaining parental consent.

"Personal information about a child can be leveraged to hook consumers for years to come, so it is incumbent upon the FTC to enforce federal law and act as a check against the ever increasing appetite for children's data," Markey said.

In a separate letter to the FTC, the two consumer privacy groups noted that YouTube has "profited enormously" by hosting channels and videos specifically designed for children on the main YouTube platform.

They also alleged that YouTube has claimed its video site is not for children under thirteen, and therefore, no parental consent is required before collecting children's personal information.

Both the letters urged the FTC to impose maximum possible penalties on YouTube and to mandate meaningful changes to the company's business practices that put children's well-being first.

This includes requiring YouTube to place all child-directed videos on a separate platform, where targeted advertising, commercial data collection, links to other sites or content and autoplay, are all prohibited.

The privacy groups also called on the FTC to order YouTube to delete all user data from children and establish a $100-million fund that should be used to support the production of non-commercial and diverse content for children.

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