Editor’s note: Today’s editorials originally appeared in The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.

The Federal Trade Commission (as in the U.S. government) punished Google’s video site YouTube recently with a $136 million fine — which many argue might be too light — for collecting children’s personal data without their parents’ consent. The state of New York, too, imposed a $34 million fine for this offense.

The government has an obligation to look out for the welfare of its citizens. This extends to curb efforts to invade a person’s privacy.

Businesses such as Google, Facebook and other internet-based companies cannot be allowed to operate unfettered.

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission dropped an enormous hammer on Facebook with a $5 billion — yes, with a B — fine for privacy violations.

“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement. Yet when it came to complying with the law protecting children’s privacy, he said, “the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids. There’s no excuse for YouTube’s violations of the law.”

Young children are protected by a federal law that requires parental consent before companies can collect and share their personal information.

While YouTube contends it’s intended for ages 13 and older, the fact is that many popular YouTube channels feature cartoons or sing-a-longs made for children. YouTube said its children’s version does track information about what kids are watching but only in order to recommend videos. It also collects personally identifying device information.

Come on! Those running YouTube very well know the audience for their products, and they gather use information because that’s how companies like Google and Facebook make their huge profits.

Given the billions and billions of dollars these new media companies are raking in, it’s tough to say these fines are enough to change bad behavior — even to some degree.

It’s certain, however, that these won’t be the last fines levied. More private information will be accessed without permission on the internet, and it will be exploited.

That is — or, at least, should be — a huge concern to all Americans. Congress will eventually have to do more to protect the privacy of the public.

But, at this point, it’s positive that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention and taking these security breaches seriously.

It’s time to take vaping health risks seriously

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The evidence is mounting that vaping — whether marijuana or tobacco oils — is a public health danger.

How many more people will die before action is taken?

This week, public health officials in Oregon said a person died of a severe respiratory illness after inhaling an electronic cigarette containing marijuana oil from a legal dispensary. It was the second death linked to vaping nationwide and the first tied to a vaping product bought at a pot shop, according to The Associated Press. A third death, this time in Indiana, was reported today.

As of today, 450 possible cases of severe lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarettes have been reported by 33 states, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first vaping death in the nation occurred in Illinois. The person contracted a serious lung disease, although it is not known if the e-cigarette contained marijuana oil or just nicotine.

Either way, this is very concerning.

If any product on the market was causing these kinds of health problems — and three deaths — it would be pulled from the market immediately. Yet, hand wringing seems to be the only action.

Why? Our guess is that it’s for the same reason that tobacco related illness and deaths continue despite clear evidence that tobacco use causes lung disease, cancer and other health problems. There is huge money made selling cigarettes and Big Tobacco has the money to fight — and win — efforts to eliminate it as a legal product.

Vaping is in the same boat — albeit a smaller one — and many fear rocking that boat.

Still, some big waves might be coming, particularly if more deaths occur.

The state of Michigan is now considering banning candy flavored vaping liquid as a way to sway kids from getting hooked.

And U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said he will introduce legislation next week that would tax e-cigarettes in the same way as traditional cigarettes to reduce the appeal to teenagers who are increasingly taking up the popular smoking alternative.

“The products are highly addictive. They’re subject to minimal safety standards and oversights, exposing users to dangerous chemicals ... and they are getting into the hands of more and more young people,” Wyden said.

That’s the direction society needs to go before this serious health concern grows any further.

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