The Consumer Federation of America linked arms with 22 other organizations in asking the FTC to investigate YouTube for violating children’s privacy. According to CFA, joining a group like this sends a stronger message to the federal agency and makes a more efficient use of time and resources.
The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is among nearly two dozen organizations that are part of a coalition asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch an investigation into Google for allegedly violating kids’ privacy and allowing ads to target them via YouTube.
In the complaint [PDF], child advocates and consumer groups argue that YouTube is violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by knowingly collecting data on users under the age of 13 and then using that data to target them with ads.
When asked why CFA signed onto this complaint, rather than writing its own, its director of consumer protection and privacy, Susan Grant said, “It’s a more efficient use of all of our limited resources.”
Grant explained that CFA frequently works with other consumer privacy groups on joint complaints, letters, and initiatives—and in each case, CFA will either reach out to other groups or other groups will contact CFA. In the latter instance, “we’ll look at it and use our expertise and knowledge to decide if we have any changes to suggest or otherwise work with the drafters to finalize something that we may ultimately sign on to,” Grant said.
In this case, CFA was presented the complaint, and the group—after taking a good look at it—signed on. “We hope that the FTC will take the appropriate action, not only to resolve this particular complaint but send a strong message that you can’t pretend that something is not directed at children and collecting their personal information when it’s obvious that it is a child-directed product or service,” Grant said.
CFA also is hopeful that the collective voices of 23 organizations will spur the FTC to action.
“We believe that a complaint to any government agency will be stronger if there are a number of groups that have joined,” Grant said. “It means that we have pulled our collective knowledge and expertise and that we have all agreed amongst ourselves that there is a particular problem and that it’s appropriate for government to act …”