As we settle into the new year, YouTube has issued a reminder that its new restrictions on data collection from videos aimed at children are now coming into effect.
Originally announced in September, the new measures aim to better protect younger users by removing data targeting features on videos identified as being aimed at kids - as explained by YouTube:
"Starting in about 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. We will also stop serving personalized ads on this content entirely, and some features will no longer be available on this type of content, like comments and notifications."
YouTube introduced a new audience setting to YouTube Studio back in November which enables creators to indicate whether or not their content is made for kids. YouTube says that creators should set the designation themselves, but that it will also utilize its machine learning tools to identify such content, and that it will override a creator designation "if abuse or error is detected".
The initial change was announced after the US Federal Trade Commission hit Google with a record $170 million penalty last year as part of a settlement over an investigation into the privacy of children's data on the Google-owned video site. The shift in approach to kids content has also lead to confusion among YouTube creators, who say that the new rules are not entirely clear on what qualifies as 'aimed at children' and how they can ensure compliance.
For its part, YouTube says that it's committed to helping creators "navigate this new landscape and to supporting our ecosystem of family content" via new assistance tools and prompts. YouTube says that it will share more information on these tools "within the coming months".
It's a complicated time for creators, with the introduction of new privacy regulations like these, along with the launch of California's Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Wading through these more complex data privacy elements will add significantly to their considerations, but when the bottom line impact relates to the protection of children for exploitative purpose, the ends largely justify the means.
YouTube has previously called for more clarifications in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), but at present, the current state of play will require more vigilance, and impose more restrictions, for creators and advertisers in certain sectors.
We'll see how the new rules play out in terms of improvements throughout the year.