A quick recap of what transpired between the FTC and Google: New York State on behalf of its people took Google to court over the illegal harvesting and handling of children’s data. Along with violation of parental rights under the COPPA law.
The courts findings were that Google had failed to post a proper explanation of user privacy rights and failed to provide direct notice to parents that their children’s data was illegally harvested, but that Google does not legally claim one way or the other whether they had undertaken these actions. Resulting in a 170 million dollar fine.
Now keep in mind the reason Google did not contest the charges against them is because during discovery they would have had to give the State of New York unprecedented access to their entire information gathering systems. Hiding anything would have resulting in heavy fines and potential jail time. With YouTube being exposed for using P-Scores to throttle and demonetize content they did not politically agree with it is safe to assume the company has a lot to hide.
Following the ruling Youtube announced they would roll out new terms of service that would address future issues under COPPA. An excuse that successfully diverted everyone’s attention from the fact none of the terms of service changes actually make Youtube in complaince with COPPA as they do not qualify for Safe Harbor Status, nor could Safe Harbor Status be applied in for their site.
What didn’t go unnoticed was the new clause that allowed Youtube to terminate any channel for solely being no longer commercially viable. An easy feat to accomplish as the site only has to demonetize the channel and then claim you are no longer commercially viable, a fact everyone picked up on fairly quickly.
Now as Reclaim the Net reports users on twitter have been reaching out to Youtube support who are claiming this is all one big misunderstanding. The term, according to Team YouTube, actually refers to Youtube’s ability to remove outdated and obsolete features, not accounts.
If the “clarified” TOS is meant to inform us that certain features on YouTube may be ended, then you need to update the TOS again because, the way it’s phrased now, everyone who read it thought it was saying YouTube will ban accounts for not being profitable to YouTube. pic.twitter.com/8UDcv0ASzs
— Possum Reviews (@ReviewsPossum) November 12, 2019
Since you know having a draft written, reviewed, rewritten and reviewed again by your legal team before being posted with careful worded phrasing clearly results in misunderstandings all the time. It’s not like actually removing features without proper wording in the terms of services won’t result in potential lawsuits or other legal complication. Clearly nothing to see here, we all need to move along.
Excuse the sarcasm, but what other proper response is there for what amounts to the legal defense the mafia attempted to use in court? It’s very clear what the terms of service means.
“YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.”
To clarify, there are no new rights in our ToS to terminate an account bc it’s not making money. As before, we may discontinue certain YouTube features or parts of the service, for ex., if they’re outdated or have low usage. This does not impact creators/viewers in any new ways.
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) November 11, 2019
Setting aside the promise this won’t impact content creators, a term mind you that they’re not qualifying may contain another interpretation of what they’re saying. Now yes the terms of service term does give them the right to remove access to your Google account at the sole discretion of Google, but based on what Team YouTube is saying it can also mean access to features such as: uploading, monetization, super chats, and live steaming.
They’re playing a word game with their explanation. By utilizing a harmless example it creates the implied inference and presumption that is the limit to the scope of the action. Yes it can be utilized to remove features that are not longer viable in a very lose interpretation of the phrasing, but it also shields them from actions such as confiscating your Super Chats.
Team YouTube is not lying when they’re saying it doesn’t allow YouTube the right to terminate your account. It only allows them to remove access to your account. Your account will still be there you will just not be able to use it. This is called obfuscation and it’s arguably a fine job of it.
When you take a step back and read between the lines and what is said carefully the matter becomes a lot less confusing and a lot more ominous.
(Thanks for the tip Ebicentre)