Did YouTube Violate The UK's Privacy Laws On Children's Data?

The safety of Children's data online

Updated on:

August 7, 2023

At GreenArrow we believe in keeping you up to date with not only all the laws surrounding the use of data and compliance, but highlighting news stories which show what can happen when companies break these laws that are there to keep us all safe online. These laws are never more important than when it involves children staying safe online, so the news story around YouTube recently was rather shocking.

Under UK GDPR there are strict rules aimed at enhancing the protection of children's personal data and making ensure that children are spoken to in simple, understandable terms. When it comes to children's data, transparency and accountability are crucial, and this is truer than ever when kids use internet services. However, companies must always carefully examine the degree of protection they are providing for that data.

Therefore, with these strict rules surrounding the privacy of children's data online, it is almost inconceivable that a large internet service provider like YouTube has been reported to have violated the UK's data privacy law by collecting viewing information from children under 13 in the UK.

Reported by the BBC, campaigner Duncan McCann who has lodged a formal complaint with the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) alleging that the website collects information about the films children watch, where they are watching them, and what devices they are using to do so.

The web-based video platform says its services are not designed for users under the age of 13. Susan Wojcicki, the platform's chief executive, just announced her resignation.

Instead, it provides a different app called YouTube Kids along with a monitored experience that necessitates parental monitoring.

On family devices, where data is automatically collected, McCann counters that many kids consume YouTube material. YouTube disagrees.

Its requirements include giving kids a high level of privacy by default and avoiding utilising design elements that tempt them to disclose more information.

At the time, YouTube promised to disable auto-play by default for all videos and prevent ad targeting and personalization for kids.

In 2021, 89% of UK children between the ages of three and 17 utilised the video platform, according to the regulator Ofcom.

Similar to the consequences for breaking data protection regulations, businesses found to be in violation of the children's internet code may be subject to significant fines.

The ICO declared that it will carefully consider the complaint.

If you want to ensure that you are complete complaint to all data protection and privacy laws that are surrounding your businesses online presence, our friendly team would be happy to chat to you and see how we can assist you and ensure that your business is doing all it can to stay compliant.