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Google to Pay a Fine of $170mn Over YouTube’s Child Privacy Violations

Facebook was fined $5 billion last month by the FTC after a year-long investigation into the company’s privacy violations following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal

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FILE - Signage is seen inside the YouTube Space LA offices in Los Angeles, California, Oct. 21, 2015. VOA

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday directed Google to pay a record $170 million over YouTube’s child privacy violations.

The settlement requires Google and YouTube to pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York for allegedly violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule.

The $170 million penalty is by far the largest amount the FTC has ever obtained in a COPPA case since Congress enacted the law in 1998.

In a complaint filed against the companies, the FTC and New York Attorney General allege that YouTube violated the COPPA Rule by collecting personal information – in the form of persistent identifiers that are used to track users across the Internet – from viewers of child-directed channels, without first notifying parents and getting their consent.

YouTube earned millions of dollars by using the identifiers, commonly known as cookies, to deliver targeted ads to viewers of these channels, according to the complaint.

“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “Yet when it came to complying with COPPA, the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids. There’s no excuse for YouTube’s violations of the law.”

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FILE – Silhouettes are seen in front of a Youtube logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica, Oct. 29, 2014. VOA

In a blog post, YouTube said: “Starting in four months, we will treat data from anyone watching children’s content on YouTube as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user.

“This means that we will limit data collection and use on videos made for kids only to what is needed to support the operation of the service.”

The COPPA Rule requires that child-directed websites and online services provide notice of their information practices and obtain parental consent prior to collecting personal information from children under 13.

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In the complaint, the FTC and New York Attorney General allege that while YouTube claimed to be a general-audience site, some of YouTube’s individual channels – such as those operated by toy companies – are child-directed and therefore must comply with COPPA.

Facebook was fined $5 billion last month by the FTC after a year-long investigation into the company’s privacy violations following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. (IANS)

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Google Maps Captures Over 10 mn Miles of Street View Imagery

The company collects street imagery via a fleet of Street View cars, each equipped with nine cameras that capture high-definition imagery from every vantage point possible

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There's also the Street View trekker on Google Maps, a backpack that collects imagery from places where driving isn't possible.

Google Maps have captured more than 10 million miles of Street View imagery – a distance that could circle the globe over 400 times.

The company announced on Friday that Google Earth now lets people browse more than 36 million square miles of high definition satellite images from various providers – covering more than 98 per cent of the entire population – to see the world from above.

“While these stunning photos show us parts of the world we may never get a chance to visit, they also help Google Maps accurately model a world that is changing each day,” said Thomas Escobar, Senior Product Manager, Google Maps.

The idea of Street View started as a side project more than 12 years ago as part of a goal to map the entire world.

The company collects street imagery via a fleet of Street View cars, each equipped with nine cameras that capture high-definition imagery from every vantage point possible.

“These cameras are athermal, meaning that theya�re designed to handle extreme temperatures without changing focus so they can function in a range of environments,” Escobar added.

Each Street View car includes its own photo processing center and lidar sensors that use laser beams to accurately measure distance.

There’s also the Street View trekker, a backpack that collects imagery from places where driving isn’t possible.

These trekkers are carried by boats, sheep, camels, and even scout troops to gather high quality photos from multiple angles, often in some of the hardest-to-map places around the world.

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Google Maps have captured more than 10 million miles of Street View imagery – a distance that could circle the globe over 400 times. Pixabay

In 2019 alone, Street View images from the Google Maps community have helped the company assign addresses to nearly seven million buildings in previously under-mapped places like Armenia, Bermuda, Lebanon, Myanmar, Tonga, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe.

Once Google collects photos, it uses a technique called photogrammetry to align and stitch together a single set of images.

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“These images show us critically important details about an area-things like roads, lane markings, buildings and rivers, along with the precise distance between each of these objects. All of this information is gathered without ever needing to set foot in the location itself,” said Google. (IANS)