The Federal Trade Commission has reportedly finalized a settlement with Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Google over alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. The act prohibits the tracking and targeting of users younger than 13. According to sources familiar with the matter, the company is expected to pay a multimillion-dollar fine and make changes to its business practices to be more in line with the law.
The settlement was reportedly backed by the agency’s three Republicans and opposed by its two Democrats. The Department of Justice must now sign off on the details of the fine. Rejection of the settlement would be unexpected, as the Justice Department rarely upends FTC’s settlements with companies it is charged with regulating.
COPPA prohibits companies from collecting children’s data in most circumstances. It also prohibits targeting children with personalized advertising. The law applies to websites or apps that are directed at children or have “actual knowledge” that users are younger than 13. Companies have complained that the law is unclear.
The FTC recently said that it would take a fresh look at how it enforces COPPA, with particular focus on websites, video games and other services that attract large numbers of young users while not being explicitly marketed to children. It said that “rapid technological changes” is the reason it needs to reexamine its rules.
YouTube has already been considering significant changes to protect its youngest viewers and content creators. Some of the changes it is considering include moving all children’s content to the YouTube Kids app. The company has not released a timeline for the changes.