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YouTube accused of breaching privacy code designed to protect kids 

In recent years, YouTube has faced criticism for failing to protect children online. In 2017, the company announced that it would step up its enforcement in this area. However, a complaint has been launched against the company for collecting data on children under 13. 

According to campaigner Duncan McCann, who made the complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), YouTube has breached the UK’s data privacy code by collecting data about what videos kids watch, their location, and what devices they are using.

The complaint explains that because lots of children watch YouTube on a shared family device, the data is collected by default. However, Duncan McCann argues that this is still in breach of the ICO children’s code, which was introduced in 2020 to protect kids’ data online.  

Tech companies are now legally required to meet certain obligations, including giving children a higher level of privacy automatically and not using design features that encourage them to share more data with the platform. 

YouTube says that it has complied with the regulations and that it has taken steps like turning off default auto-play on videos and stopping ad targeting and personalisation for younger users. 

It also said in a statement that it tries to protect children as much as possible. The statement said: “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.”

The company continued to say that the service isn’t meant for children under 13, and that it has an app called “YouTube Kids” that offers tailored content for younger kids. It also offers a “supervised experience” feature with extra parental controls. 

The ICO said that it would look into the complaint, and if YouTube is found to be in breach of the children’s internet code, it could face a large penalty, similar to breaching data protection laws. 


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