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Today's Smart Brevity count: 957 words, <4 minute read.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Google will pay $170 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint that its YouTube subsidiary illegally collected children's personal information, the agency announced Wednesday morning.
The big picture: The FTC touted the settlement, details of which had circulated widely last week, as a record-breaking penalty that would shape YouTube's future behavior. But critics — including the FTC's two Democratic commissioners — argued that both the size of the fine and accompanying new restrictions on the company's behavior don't go far enough to protect the public, Axios' Scott Rosenberg writes.
Details: The FTC found that YouTube's tracking of underage users violated provisions of the 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) because the company failed to notify users of child-directed channels about the tracking and obtain parental consent.
What they're saying: "This settlement achieves a significant victory for the millions of parents whose children watch child-directed content on YouTube," FTC chairman Joseph Simons and commissioner Christine Wilson wrote in a release. "It also sends a strong message to children's content providers and to platforms about their obligation to comply with the COPPA Rule.
"We believe the significant monetary penalty, coupled with the far-reaching conduct relief, is almost certainly better than what we would achieve in litigation. Importantly, the relief for consumers is immediate, rather than after years of litigation."— Simons and Wilson
The $170 million penalty "is almost 30 times higher than the largest civil penalty previously imposed under COPPA," Wilson notes.
Yes, but: That's still small compared with the tens of billions Google earns in revenue annually, and critics of the settlement argue that it won't serve as as real deterrent to the company and its peers.
What's next: The settlement, which also would conclude a parallel inquiry by New York state, must be approved by a federal district court judge.
Go deeper: For tech giants, profits far outweigh fines
No longer content to let Washington be the sole arbiter of antitrust issues, a number of states are stepping up to rein in tech companies.
Driving the news:
Why it matters: The move comes as states are increasingly frustrated with a lack of federal action on both the antitrust and privacy fronts.
What they're saying:
Courtesy of Google
Google on Tuesday released the latest version of Android, known as Android 10, making it available for Pixel owners.
Why it matters: Google's annual release brings a number of new features, including greater on-device machine learning abilities, dark mode and support for foldable devices.
And while Android phone makers are known for being slow to adopt new releases, Xiaomi and Essential both announced they are also ready with updates to Android 10 for some customers.
Courtesy of Facebook
Facebook on Tuesday announced a new policy for gaining user consent to apply facial recognition to photos on the service, while also expanding its use of the technology.
Our thought bubble: At first, Facebook used facial recognition to power a single feature — automatic photo tagging. By expanding its use beyond that single feature, Facebook could be greasing the wheels for even greater use down the road.
Meanwhile: Facebook says the Homeland Security Department's plan to create fake profiles to monitor foreigners looking to enter the country would violate company rules.
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