A lawsuit has been filed against YouTube alleging that the platform violated privacy laws in the country by tracking children online.
The case filed on behalf of over 5 million British children, under the age of 13, says that Google-owned YouTube unlawfully targeted young children with addictive programming and harvested their data for advertisers.
Duncan McCann, a researcher and a privacy advocate, is representing million families in the UK, and is backed by international law firm Hausfeld and Foxglove.
According to the firm, the action is the first in Europe against the tech company on behalf of children. It seeks 2.5 billion in damages, about $3.2 billion.
We think its unlawful because YouTube processes the data of every child who uses the service-including kids under 13. They profit from this data, as they are paid by advertisers to place targeted advertising on their YouTube website, Foxglove said in a statement.
They do all this without getting explicit consent from the childrens parents.
McCann said that his kids love YouTube, and he wants them to be able to use it; he is also relatively conscious of whats happening with his kids data online.
Its just impossible to combat Googles lure and influence, which comes from its surveillance power, he added.
YouTube claims not to target under age viewers, but the law firm said that the video-streaming platform, in pitch materials to toy makers Matter and Hasbro, boasted that it was the new Saturday morning cartoons, the number one website visited regularly by kids, todays leader in reaching children age 6-11 against top tv channels, and unanimously voted as the favourite website of kids 2-12.
The firm added that YouTubes algorithms are geared to maximise engagement that keeps children hooked on their platform longer. That means more ads served and more revenue for Google. This has led to rise of kid influencers, surprise eggs, and unboxing videos which garner millions of views on the video-sharing platform.
This is not the first time that a case has been filed against Google for violating Childrens privacy. Last year, it had to pay $170 million to the US Federal Trade Commission for alleged violations of COPPA, a US childrens privacy law.
Google has not responded to an emailed query at the time of publishing this story.