Disabling YouTube ads could protect children's privacy says FTC

Disabling YouTube ads could protect children's privacy says FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reportedly suggested during a call last week that disabling adverts on YouTube could be a way to stop the platform breaking privacy laws. 

As reported by Bloomberg, FTC chairman Joseph Simmons and Republican Commissioner Noah Phillips both pitched that the platform could avoid violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by not showing ads on videos aimed at kids.

YouTube is currently part of an ongoing FTC investigation following multiple complaints regarding the platform's disregard for COPPA. Two of the consumer groups that filed a complaint were also present in the July 1st call - the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy.

However, the two groups have since pointed out that disabling adverts will not stop the platform from collecting data pertaining to children under 13. They also highlighted that disabling adverts will harm creator revenue, which means that the majority of YouTubers will likely be against it.

"We are concerned about any remedy that would allow children’s content to remain on the main YouTube site and shift the burden of responsibility to content creators to opt out of ‘interest-based’ advertising," the letter said.

FTC refinement 

YouTube isn't the first platform to face scrutiny from the FTC - rising video app TikTok was hit with a record-breaking $5.7 million fine after violating COPPA last year. Bloomberg's sources stated that the existence of the call between the FTC and consumer groups could suggest that a similar settlement is being discussed. 

Earlier this year, YouTube parent company Google terminated over 400 channels in light of action that saw children being targeted and exploited via the platform. Videos were discovered with hundreds of predatory comments, leading YouTube to consider demonetising content with inappropriate comments.


Danielle Partis is editor of and former editor of She was named Journalist of the Year at the MCV Women in Games Awards 2019, as well as in the MCV 30 under 30 2020. Prior to Steel Media, she wrote about music and games at Team Rock.