A campaign group is suing Google for up to £2.5bn over claims that YouTube breaks EU data protection laws by harvesting information about children under 13 – and is hoping to turn it into a UK class-action-style case.
Duncan McCann, backed by the Foxglove privacy campaign group and a slew of other organisations, alleges that YouTube broke the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the UK's Data Protection Act 2018, as well as committing breaches of confidence and misusing private information.
In a particulars of claim filed at London's High Court and seen by The Register, McCann said Google "failed to obtain valid parental consent for the processing of personal data of children under 13 years of age, as required by law".
Five million children are said to have been affected by Google's alleged actions, with each child potentially entitled to up to £500 if the case is successful. McCann seeks to have the case certified as a group litigation suit, the English law equivalent of a US class action.
Foxglove director Cori Crider said in a statement: "From dodgy 'kidfluencers' to toy unboxing videos, Google's drive to profit from kids' attention has turned corners of YouTube into a weird technicolored nightmare. This case isn't just about ads. The real price of YouTube's 'free' services is kids addicted, influenced, and exploited by Google. It's already unlawful to data-mine children under 13."
McCann also claims, through barrister Gerry Facenna QC, that Google's terms and conditions were not written in "clear and plain language" that children could understand – meaning kids had no idea what they were signing up to when they clicked past disclaimers to get onto the video-hosting website.
The breach of confidence is said to have occurred because Google knew it was harvesting data f ..