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YouTube: £2.5 billion lawsuit for supposedly infringing personal rights of children

The technical giant is accused of collecting data relating to minors under the age of thirteen. A Google owned company is accused of violating EU and UK laws. The company is alleged to have sold data about its young users to advertisers.

YouTube £2.5 billion lawsuit in UK.
YouTube: £2.5 billion lawsuit.

YouTube lawsuit

YouTube is facing a historic legal battle over the alleged violation of millions of British children's privacy and data rights, which could make its parent company Google pay £2.5 billion.

Documents claiming the company collected data from users under the age of 13 without consent, and then sold it to advertising companies in violation of both UK and EU law, have been filed with the High Court, may reveal The Mail on Sunday.

It is understood that Google will vigorously contest the request. One of its arguments is that YouTube's main platform is not intended for children under the age of 13, who should use the YouTube Kids application, incorporating more safeguards.

Google is also expected to highlight a number of changes it introduced last year to improve parental notification: 
  • Limit data collection
  • Restrict personalized advertising

The case was filed in July and is the first of its kind in Europe

The lawsuit being brought by privacy activist Duncan McCann. He believes that if the case is successful, damages of only £500 would have to be paid to those whose data was breached.

Most importantly, it would set a precedent and potentially make YouTube responsible for paying approximately five million children in the UK who use the site and their parents or guardians.

Confirming that the case has been dismissed, Mr. McCann said last night: "We were concerned about how children use the Internet. Also, the dangers that children who are exposed to pornography or who are being educated.

McCann, 41, will claim that YouTube and Google have violated both UK data protection laws and general EU data protection rules (GDPR).

He also argues that companies sell the information collected from children to toy manufacturers who target young people with advertising without parental consent.
He said: "It cannot be right for Google to sell children's private information to advertisers to target children without explicit permission. I believe that only through legal action and compensation will these companies change their behavior, and only through a class action lawsuit can we fight these companies on an equal footing".

YouTube has refused to sell users' personal information

The case, which involves children who had used YouTube since May 2018, when the Data Protection Act came into force, is supported by digital privacy activists Foxglove and the global law firm Hausfeld. Lesley Hannah of Hausfeld said: "This is an incredibly important case. Technology titans like Google cannot be above the law".

Foxglove director Cori Crider added: "The cost of free YouTube services depends on children, influenced and without privacy. Google will not clean up its act until it is forced to do so by the courts".

Last night, a YouTube spokesperson said: "We do not comment on ongoing cases. YouTube is not suitable for children under 13. We have introduced the YouTube Kids application [in 2015] as a specific target for children. We have made other changes that will allow us to protect children and families on YouTube better.

The case is unlikely to go to court before next autumn and has been taken over by Vannin Capital. This company will reduce unused compensation. The case will also depend on the outcome of another privacy and personal data lawsuit against Google that does not concern children.

Under EU data protection legislation and the EU GDPR, which Brexit will transpose into UK law, citizens can decide whether personal information is collected and how it is used.