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Sen. Nelson Quizzes Google on YouTube Kids

Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) wants some answers from Google in the wake of reports that its YouTube Kids app contains inappropriate content including profanity and jokes about drugs and child abuse.

That came in a letter to Google, and also follows a complaint lodged with the Federal Trade Commission back in April by a coalition of child advocacy groups pointing to the mixing of advertising and programming contentsupplemented last month with information about the allegedly inappropriate content.

In a letter to Google CEO Larry Page, Nelson says he is concerned about both the content and the alleged lack of separation between ad and program content.

"Google introduced its YouTube Kids service as a safe haven for children to access age appropriate video content.  I applaud the company’s effort to create appropriate venues for children who increasingly use online services for educational and entertainment purposes," he wrote. "However, in so doing, any such service must take great care to ensure that children are not unnecessarily exposed to inappropriate content, especially since parents may rely on the very notion that such a service is 'for kids' and, thus, safe for their unfettered usage."

Nelson suggests that Google, being Google, should have the expertise to filter out "unsuitable" content.

Among the questions he wants answered are how Google decides what content can be on YouTube Kids, what its policies are regarding complaints and investigating flagged content, and how it distinguishes between paid and unpaid content.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.