TikTok will pay $ 5.7 million to settle charges of violating the Child Privacy Act, the Federal Trade Commission announced today. The video application and the abbreviated social network are also required to obtain parental approval for users under the age of 13, in order to comply with federal law. All previously uploaded videos by people under 13 will also be deleted.
The FTC alleged that TikTok had "illegally collected personal information about children" by not asking permission from their parents before registering, which violated COPPA, the law on the protection of privacy online children. According to COPPA, any child-oriented application or website, such as TikTok (and its old application, Musical.ly), must ask children under the age of 13 to obtain their parents' consent to share information. with an application or a website.
Almost all social networks and online services operating in the United States require users to accept conditions prohibiting children under 13 years of age from using the product, primarily to avoid liability. Still, a large percentage of Musical.ly users were under the age of 13, according to the FTC complaint, and there were "thousands of complaints from parents that their children under 13 had created Musical accounts." .ly ".
"The Musical.ly operators – now known as TikTok – knew that many children were using the app, but they still did not ask for their parents' consent before collecting names, e-mail addresses and other personal information of users under the age of 13, "FTC president Joe Simons said in a press release. The FTC said the $ 5.7 million settlement was the heaviest civil penalty ever imposed in a case of protecting children's privacy.
TikTok's trusted and security team issued a response following this news, claiming that it had taken further steps to increase the safety and protection of children under 13 years of age. The company launches a separate in-app experience for children under 13 years of age content and user interaction, "according to the statement.
"In the younger ecosystem, users can not share videos on TikTok, comment on other people's videos, exchange messages with users, manage a profile or subscribers," the statement said.
Musical.ly had 100 million active monthly users at the time of integration into TikTok, a larger application owned by the Chinese start-up Bytedance, in August 2018. TikTok has more than 500 million users. users around the world, many of whom are children. According to the release, more than 200 million users have downloaded Musical.ly worldwide, with 65 million accounts registered in the United States.
Update (February 27, 3 pm ET): The story has been updated to include TikTok's answer.