DealBook Briefing: Is U.S. Ready to Rein in Big Tech?

DealBook Briefing: Is U.S. Ready to Rein in Big Tech?

Good Thursday morning. Programming note: I’m going to be in conversation with Blackstone’s co-founder and C.E.O., Stephen Schwarzman, about his new book, “What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence,” and about the global economy and philanthropy for a DealBook TimesTalk in New York on Sept. 16. Get your tickets here. (Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.)

The tech giant paid $170 million to settle charges that it knowingly and illegally harvested children’s personal information on YouTube and used it to target them with ads.

The F.T.C. and New York’s attorney general had brought the charges, which accused the company of violating federal law by tracking children’s browsing data without parents’ consent.

The fine is the biggest civil penalty yet obtained by the F.T.C. for a violation of children’s privacy. Google also agreed to ask YouTube channel owners to identify children’s content so that it can be designated clear of targeted ads.

But critics said the punishment was a slap on the wrist for a company that earned nearly $10 billion in its most recent fiscal quarter:

• One of the regulator’s two Democratic commissioners, Rohit Chopra, complained that the settlement didn’t hold YouTube executives personally responsible.

• The other Democratic commissioner, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, said it didn’t go far enough to identify children’s content.

• Senator Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, said: “The F.T.C. let Google off the hook.”

• And Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, tweeted that the fine was “an insult to every parent in America who has had their children’s privacy violated.”

The big question is whether the government’s effort to rein in Big Tech will lead to serious changes, Lauren Feiner of CNBC writes.

More: Google was accused of using hidden web pages to feed users’ personal data to advertisers, potentially violating E.U. privacy laws. And a software maker’s C.E.O. accused the tech giant of forcing companies to pay for ads in order to enhance their visibility in search results.

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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York and Michael J. de la Merced in London.

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• The development cements China’s position as a major cloning country, alongside the U.S., Britain and South Korea.

• Sinogene has cloned more than 40 dogs, some as pets and others for medical research, at a cost of about $53,000 each.

• Critics say pet cloning is inefficient and inhumane, with unknown effects on both the cloned animal or on the broader gene pool. But many Chinese people don’t think that the practice is problematic, and there are no laws against animal cruelty.

• “Sinogene has bigger ambitions than cats and dogs,” Ms. Lee writes: It’s cloning a horse, and hopes to clone endangered animals like the panda and the South China tiger.

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