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YouTube Has Been Accused Of Collecting Children’s Data

These concerns will be checked against the UK’s Children’s Code which could shape the development of online spaces

Photo Credit: charles deluvio/Unsplash

Video-sharing platform YouTube has been accused of collecting the viewing data of children under 13. This is a breach of UK data privacy code created to protect children.

According to BBC News, campaigner Duncan McCann has filed an official complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO’s Children’s Code contains 15 standards that online services must follow. These are implemented to ensure companies comply with data protection laws to protect children’s online data.

The services covered by the code are broad, ranging from apps to games, toys, and devices. This complaint against YouTube is believed to be the first test of the Children’s Code since it was introduced in 2020. Companies were given a year to ensure their products complied with the new regulations.

ICO regulations

McCann claims that YouTube is gathering data about the types of videos children watch, where they are watching and what devices they use. However, YouTube has stated that it is invested in protecting families.

A YouTube spokesperson stated, “We remain committed to continuing our engagement with the ICO on this priority work, and with other key stakeholders including children, parents and child-protection experts.”

However, McCann stresses that many children use family devices to access YouTube content, where data can be gathered by default as it is not specifically registered as a child’s account. To counter this, YouTube also states that they offer a separate app called YouTube Kids. This provides a more contained environment for children to explore and makes it easier for caregivers to regulate viewing. The ICO has said it will be considering the complaint carefully.

Online safety

In 2019 YouTube was fined $170 million by a US regulator for violating child privacy laws. While YouTube didn’t admit responsibility, it did pay the fine and change its practices. The outcome of the YouTube complaint may have a wider impact across media as its regulations can also apply to shared digital spaces such as the metaverse. 

Recently the NSPCC called for changes in the Online Safety Bill after concerns about rising numbers relating to child abuse image crimes. These crimes were reported mainly on social media platforms and apps like Snapchat. However, there is growing concern that the metaverse is also a target for these online crimes.

Written By

Paige Cook is a writer with a multi-media background. She has experience covering video games and technology and also has freelance experience in video editing, graphic design, and photography. Paige is a massive fan of the movie industry and loves a good TV show, if she is not watching something interesting then she's probably playing video games or buried in a good book. Her latest addiction is virtual photography and currently spends far too much time taking pretty pictures in games rather than actually finishing them.

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