Who is COPPA aimed at

COPPA - What do YouTubers have to consider?

Effects of COPPA on YouTubers?

The US consumer protection agency FTC had accused YouTube of broadcasting personalized advertisements to children specifically. Based on user data that Google collects from a user, it is easily possible for the group - which also includes YouTube - to categorize the user demographically. The broadcasting of personalized (target group-related based on the rest of the online behavior) advertising to children is a violation of COPPA regulations because their personal data is processed in the process. Before it could come to a judgment, Google reached an agreement with the FTC on a settlement of over $ 170 million.

In the event of repeated violations of the COPPA, YouTube faces renewed lawsuits or fines. Also because the amount of content that is uploaded to YouTube every day cannot be controlled by Google itself, the content creators (also content creators or YouTubers) are held responsible. These are supposed to examine their content to see whether it is specifically aimed at children and, incidentally, YouTube threatens serious consequences if it is incorrectly categorized.

What content is especially for children?

According to German law, a child is someone who has not yet reached the age of 14 (Section 1 JuSchG). This limit is also found in some other laws. According to Art. 8 Para. 1 GDPR, young people who have reached the age of 16 can consent to the processing of their personal data. However, German or European law should (for the time being) only play a subordinate role. YouTube threatens its users with contractual consequences that are largely based on the American guidelines (people up to 13 years of age) of the COPPA, so that this age limit must also be observed here.

In the following cases, according to Google, videos are even aimed at children and thus a video "specially for children":

  • Children are the main target group based on the following factors
  • Or children may not be the main target audience based on the following factors, but the video is still aimed at them
    • The subject of the video (e.g. educational content for preschool children)
    • Whether children are the intended or actual target audience for the video
    • Whether children appear as actors or models in the video
    • Whether characters, people, celebrities or toys appear in the video that are interesting for children; this also includes animation or cartoon characters
    • Whether the language used in the video is aimed at children and understandable for children
    • Whether the video shows activities that are of interest to children, such as B. Role plays, simple songs or games, or whether it deals with content from early childhood education
    • Whether there are songs, stories or poems for children in the video

These factors, presented by YouTube itself, are of course pervaded by indefinite legal terms, so that some interpretation of the specific offer of a content creator is required here. YouTube wants to check videos and channels for the above factors with the help of an algorithm. To what extent AI is suitable for interpreting indefinite legal terms appears questionable.

Consequences of wrong categorization

YouTube itself explicitly threatens consequences on the YouTube platform on its own information page. This could, for example, be the complete demonetization (loss of all advertising income) of a channel or even the deletion of a channel. YouTube also holds out the prospect of fines under the COPPA itself. These penalties can range up to $ 42,530 per violation, according to the COPPA information page.

What happens if videos are saved as especially for children be declared?

First of all, with such videos, which are to be declared as special for children according to the above factors, the possibilities of interaction are severely restricted. It will no longer be possible to comment on such videos; In addition, the number of subscribers and ratings will no longer be publicly traceable. In addition, it will probably no longer be possible for such channels to generate income through interactions with their community (livestreams, etc.). In addition, the affected channels will probably no longer be able to create stories, and the bell for notifications will also be omitted.

The biggest disadvantage, however, is likely to be the exclusion of personalized advertising. This should reduce the CPM value (advertising costs per 1,000 views) of many videos significantly and thus reduce the income of content creators. However, personalized advertising is only that which is most suitable for the respective user based on the rest of the use of Google services. Context-based advertising will continue to be possible for videos that are specifically aimed at children.

Help for YouTubers and other content creators

Content creators have until January 2020 to examine their channels and videos for the above factors. If you are uncertain, we offer comprehensive legal advice and reviews. Inquire without obligation.

Kannengießer & Sauer Rechtsanwälte Düsseldorf advise companies on data protection law and commercial law. We also help content creators such as bloggers or YouTubers to keep track of media and competition law.