Two House members sent a letter this week to the company’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, expressing concern that the collection practices of YouTube, a Google subsidiary, may not comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as Coppa.
The letter on Monday — from David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island, and Jeff Fortenberry, Republican of Nebraska — followed up on a complaint filed in April by more than 20 advocacy groups. The groups sought an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces Coppa.
In addition to the complaint and the lawmakers’ letter, Google is facing pressure from the New Mexico attorney general on how it may collect children’s location data. The state official named the tech giant as a defendant in a lawsuit filed last week against the developer of Fun Kid Racing and other gaming apps, along with advertisers involved with them, claiming that they were sharing children’s data without their parents’ permission.
YouTube has said its practices are in line with Coppa, which requires companies to obtain explicit, verifiable permission from parents before collecting personal information from children under 13 or targeting them with ads tied to their online behavior.
“There’s more interest in children’s privacy than there has been in a long time, and that’s related to the broader privacy conversations that we’re having,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, who was involved with the April complaint and the new push by lawmakers. “Whether that leads to Google being held to account is yet to be seen.”
Google, the biggest seller of online advertising, said its policies did not allow advertisers to deliver personalized ads to children under 13 or collect their personal information.
“We’re committed to protecting children online with a combination of family-friendly products and strict policies,” a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.
Several of the most-viewed channels on YouTube are aimed at children, including ChuChu TV and Ryan ToysReview, according to Social Blade, which compiles social media data. The channels, according to the site, have attracted billions of views. That’s good for ad revenue, which YouTube splits with video makers.
Mr. Golin said he was disappointed that the Federal Trade Commission, which met with children’s rights advocates in May after they filed their complaint, hadn’t acted on the issue. Lawmakers and the New Mexico attorney general “are really stepping up and putting pressure on the companies that should be coming from the F.T.C.,” he added.
Still, Mr. Golin said he was optimistic that the congressmen could glean information from Google.
“These are not questions we’ve ever gotten answers to, and it would be great to get on the record what Google and YouTube actually know about this,” he said.