Landmark UK legal claim regarding unlawful use by YouTube of more than 5 million children's data

A multi-billion pounds claim – brought on behalf of up to 5 million British children aged under 13 and their parents – alleges that YouTube’s methods of targeting underage audiences constitute major violations of the UK Data Protection Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), both of which were designed to protect citizens’ privacy rights.

The representative action brought in the UK High Court is the first of its kind in Europe brought against a tech firm on behalf of children.

YouTube routinely breaks UK and European privacy laws, unlawfully targets young children with addictive programming and harvests their data - without obtaining the prior consent of the children’s parents or guardians - according to the ground-breaking legal action.

The website has no user practical age requirements and makes no adequate attempt to limit usage by youngsters

YouTube, owned by Google, claims not to target underage viewers but its popularity with British children is unrivalled even by mainstream TV channels. The UK media regulator Ofcom reported earlier this year that most children aged 3 years or over now watch it at least once a week, for several hours on average.

Duncan McCann, the Representative Claimant in the action, said:

“My kids love YouTube, and I want them to be able to use it. But YouTube needs to comply with the law. It isn’t ‘free’ – our kids are paying for it with their attention and private data. Like many parents, I am conscious of what’s happening with my kids’ data online, but even so it’s just impossible to combat Google’s lure and influence, which comes from its surveillance power. There’s a massive power imbalance between us and them, and it needs to be fixed.”

Lesley Hannah, Partner at Hausfeld LLP, who is leading the litigation, said:

“British and European laws are there to protect all citizen’s privacy and data rights, with special protections for children. However, Google continues to break those laws. The company needs to be held to account and pay compensation to all families who use YouTube in England and Wales.”

“Schools, hospitals and millions of small businesses observe their GDPR obligations every day, despite the occasional inconvenience of doing so. Google’s size and power does not give it the right to sidestep those.”

The claimants are represented by Hausfeld LLP, and Gerry Facenna QC and Nik Grubeck of Monckton Chambers. Foxglove serves as co-counsel and the action is funded by Vannin Capital.

For more information, please visit the claim website.

The case has been reported by the media:

BBC News
Business Wire 
Daily Mail
Law360 (subscription only)
Lawyer Monthly
Legal Technology
Tech Crunch
The Sun