YouTube is breaking the law by harvesting children’s data for targeted advertising – our work to stop them!

Tagged with: platform power, surveillance capitalism, youtube

YouTube, and its parent company Google, are ignoring laws designed to protect children. They know full well that millions of children watch YouTube. They’re making money from unlawfully harvesting data about these young children as they watch YouTube videos – and then running highly targeted adverts, designed to influence vulnerable young minds.

Foxglove thinks that the way YouTube exploits children is harmful and disturbing. It violates children’s rights and – as many parents will confirm – it gets kids hooked on content that isn’t very good for them. We also think that it’s unlawful.

YouTube processes the data of every child who uses the service – including kids under 13. They profit from this data because they are paid by advertisers to place targeted advertising on their YouTube website. They do all this without getting explicit consent from the children’s parents.

Under the GDPR and UK law, corporations can’t process the data of kids under 13 *at all* without explicit parental consent. Parents haven’t agreed to the many ways YouTube takes kids’ data.

Foxglove are supporting a group claim against YouTube’s owner, Google. The claim has been brought by Duncan McCann, a British father of three. If Duncan’s case is successful, every child who has watched YouTube since 25 May 2018 in England and Wales may be entitled to compensation, along with their parents. More importantly, Google and other tech giants would be forced to change their behaviour in the future.

This is going to be a big battle. Google is one of the biggest tech companies in the world and YouTube makes them a lot of money. You can bet that they’ll throw everything they’ve got at trying to stop this case – including huge teams of lawyers, lobbyists, and PR professionals. They’re also likely to claim that this is a fringe issue – that most parents are fine with the way YouTube uses their children’s data and are relaxed about their children being shown targeted adverts.

It’s going to take a team effort to beat them.

Duncan McCann is the “representative claimant” in this case, which means he is acting on behalf of all affected children and parents. Foxglove is supporting the case and Hausfeld & Co LLP are Duncan’s lawyers. Duncan also has an advisory committee of experts advising him on his case.

You can help win by getting involved in the following ways:

1. Sign up to hear from Foxglove! We will send you case updates and information about how you can help as the case progresses.

2. If you’re a parent with children under 13, you can register as an interested party.
If you’re a parent whose children who have used YouTube in the period since 25 May 2018 and who were throughout that period (i) resident in England and Wales, and (ii) under 13 years of age (the “Represented Children”) you can register as an interested party.

3. Donate to Foxglove
Foxglove exists to challenge the misuse of technology by big tech companies and by government. It’s never going to be an even fight – companies like Google are always going to have many times more money than us! But we do need some money to fund this work and we rely entirely on donations. Click the Donate button below if you can help.