TikTok is back in hot water, this time because, despite its promise, it hasn’t protected its teenage users – and if history repeats itself, it may have to pay another seven-digit fine if this complaint bears fruit.
The complaint was submitted by the Campaign for Ad-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy along with a dozen other groups. The essence of it is that TikTok continues to look for rules to protect children’s privacy by leaving videos with them and does not get parental consent before collecting data about younger users.
Last year, TikTok (and its predecessor Musical.ly) paid the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a $ 5.7 million severance payment for allegedly violating the Children̵
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The payment was a record breaker, and the hope was that it would be enough to make the then young social media service more cautious. Simons continued: “T.His record sentence should be a reminder of all online services and websites aimed at children: we take the enforcement of COPPA very seriously and do not tolerate companies that clearly ignore the law. “
However, according to this complaint, this is not the case:
Contrary to the terms of the consent decree, TikTok does not make reasonable efforts to ensure that a child’s parent is directly informed of its practices regarding the collection, use, or disclosure of personal data. In fact, TikTok never contacts the child’s parents to notify them and doesn’t even ask for contact information for the child’s parents.
The groups further say that TikTok hides its privacy policies and tools in the settings and does not adequately inform parents that they can check their child’s account. It adds that TikTok’s child accounts limit the functionality of the app, which “encourages children to lie about their age”, and that they can easily defeat the age gate by registering again with another birthday.
Given the mass of TikTok, one wonders whether it might not simply pay the FTC fine and continue to do what it does. TikTok’s popularity with a young audience has made it high enough to compete with people like Instagram and Snapchat. So I don’t see the company giving up behind it so gracefully.
A TikTok spokesman told the New York Times: “We take data protection seriously and are committed to ensuring that TikTok remains a safe and entertaining community for our users. “
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