YouTube has been accused of collecting the viewing data of children aged under 13, in breach of a UK data privacy code designed to protect children.
Campaigner Duncan McCann has lodged an official complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
He says the site is gathering data about the videos children watch, where they are watching and what device they are watching it on.
YouTube said it had invested in protecting families.
This included treating all children’s content as though children were viewing it, even on an adult’s account
The platform is owned by the US tech giant Alphabet, which is also the parent company of Google.
The firm has always said its service was not intended for use by children below the age of 13, and it offers a separate children’s app called YouTube Kids as well as a “supervised experience” which requires parental consent.
Mr McCann says plenty of children watch YouTube content on family devices, where this data can be gathered by default because it is not registered as a children’s account.
His complaint is believed to be the first test of the ICO children’s code, which was introduced in 2020, when tech firms were given one year to comply with it.
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