Josh Hawley Slams ‘Paltry’ FTC Fine Against YouTube

A boy watches 'Thomas the Tank Engine' on YouTube. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) slammed the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “paltry” fine against Google Wednesday, suggesting that when “big bureaucracy” and big tech become “allies,” families lose.

The FTC announced Wednesday that they have settled with Google over YouTube’s alleged violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Google will pay $136 million to the consumer protection agency, and the search giant will pay $34 million to New York state over their alleged child privacy violations.

The agency drew the ire of Sen. Hawley, one of the Senate’s foremost tech critics, believing that he lost “confidence” in the agency’s ability to police Silicon Valley.

“Every day I lose more confidence in the FTC. This paltry fine is an insult to every parent in America who has had their children’s privacy violated,” Hawley tweeted. “When big bureaucracy & Big Tech becomes allies, parents & families lose. Something has to change.”

Hawley was not the only public figure to chastise the FTC settlement. FTC Democrat Commissioner Rohit Chopra contended that Google’s collection of children’s private data was “extremely lucrative” for the search giant. Similar to the agency’s fine with Facebook, the Google settlement has “no individual accountability, insufficient remedies to address the company’s financial incentives, and a fine that still allows the company to profit from its lawbreaking.”

Technology experts have also decried the fine. The Center for Digital Democracy called the fine “woefully low,” calling Google’s privacy violation “egregious.”

Center for Digital Democracy deputy director Katharina Kopa said in a statement, “A small amount like this would effectively reward Google for engaging in massive and illegal data collection without any regard to children’s safety.”

Sen. Hawley has criticized past FTC fines against America’s largest technology companies.

Hawley said in July that the FTC “utterly” failed to penalize Facebook “in any effective way” for violating Americans’ privacy.

“This is very disappointing,” Hawley contended. “This settlement does nothing to change Facebook’s creepy surveillance of its own users & the misuse of user data. It does nothing to hold executives accountable. It utterly fails to penalize Facebook in any effective way.”

Sens. Hawley and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) contended recently that Facebook’s fine would send a signal to other technology companies that they can continue to “push the boundaries” with privacy.

“If the FTC is seen as traffic police handing out speeding tickets to companies profiting off breaking the law, then Facebook and others will continue to push the boundaries,” the senators wrote to the agency.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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