On September 14, 2020, Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google and YouTube, was subject to a representative action in the United Kingdom alleging that video-streaming service YouTube "routinely" tracks children's activity online without parental consent. The claimants, consisting of over five million British children and their parents, are seeking over 2.5 billion pounds (over CA$4.2B) in compensation total from the tech conglomerate.
The case, brought in the United Kingdom's High Court, is the first representative action for children brought against a tech company in the UK or Europe. The lawsuit is brought forward by privacy researcher and advocate Duncan McCann and is supported by tech justice group Foxglove. The filing alleges that YouTube targets and profits from children audiences, violating the UK Data Protection Act and the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation by "harvesting children's data without obtaining prior parental consent".
This is not the first time the company has been subject to such allegations. Last year, YouTube faced a similar proceeding in the United States and reached an agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General to pay a US$170-million fine to settle allegations of illegal collection of children's personal information without consent.
In a statement, a YouTube spokesperson stated that "YouTube is not for children under the age of thirteen" and that the company "launched the YouTube Kids app as a dedicated destination for kids and are always working to protect kids and families on YouTube". However, Alphabet Inc. has yet to formally respond to the representative action in the UK's High Court.
Summary By: Hashim Ghazi
Disclaimer: This Newsletter is intended to provide readers with general information on legal developments in the areas of e-commerce, information technology and intellectual property. It is not intended to be a complete statement of the law, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. No person should act or rely upon the information contained in this newsletter without seeking legal advice.
E-TIPS is a registered trade-mark of Deeth Williams Wall LLP.