Duncan McCann, a father of three and a campaigner with the 5rights Foundation, has filed an official complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), accusing YouTube of gathering data about the videos children watch, where they are watching and what device they are watching it on.
YouTube says it had invested in protecting families and offering YouTube Kids, which it says is “family friendly” and uses automated filters and parental feedback to protect children.
The ICO said it had received the complaint and will carefully consider it. The office has up to three months to decide whether to initiate an investigation on the matter.
The British media quoted a YouTube spokesperson, saying: “We remain committed to continuing our engagement with the ICO on this priority work, and with other key stakeholders including children, parents and child-protection experts.“
Also read: TikTok to develop parental control tool to block certain videos
McCann says plenty of children watch YouTube content on family devices, where viewing data can be gathered by default because it is not registered as a children's account.
His complaint is believed to be the first test of the ICO children's code, which was introduced in 2020, when tech firms were given one year to comply with it.
According to the UK’s communication watchdog Ofcom, 89 percent of children in the UK used the video platform in 2021.
YouTube had faced a similar accusation in the US, where campaigners accused the firm of collecting data on children under 13 without parental consent. The case resulted in the firm being fined to $170m in 2019. YouTube did not admit responsibility but it did pay the fine.