Whether in her earlier life as a lip-syncing app Musical.ly or her current brand as TikTok, the short-form video platform has always produced a youthful demographics. In the past, their stance to obtain user approval was inattentive. For both reasons, it is now the highest civil penalty for violating the online privacy of children.
COPPA – the online child protection law – forces companies seeking to collect personal information to seek the consent of their parents from minors 13. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the parent company Musical.ly Inc. was "aware of that A significant percentage of users were under the age of 13 and received thousands of complaints from parents. "
Information that may have been collected by the app included email addresses, phone numbers, first and last names, and photos. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on the percentage of users under the age of 13, but said that since the app was renamed TikTok last August, there has always been an age gate that has been encouraging users to confirm that they are at least 13 years old] The blatant violation of the privacy laws of a tech company is now an old hand, but the combination of an open news structure, automatically public profile pages and a large contingent of minors led to "public reports of adults trying to Kids about Musical.ly to contact app, "said the FTC. In addition to compliance with COPPA regulations and the deletion of stored data at the request of parents, Musical.ly Inc. will charge a fine of $ 5.7 million.
A blog post from the company states that "TikTok as of today" has implemented changes for younger US users in a limited, separate app environment that includes additional security and privacy measures designed specifically for this audience. . [which] does not allow the sharing of personal information and results in significant restrictions on content and user interaction. "
" This FTC ruling highlights what we have long known: children's personal information is not considered inadmissible, "Senator Ed Markey, Senator of Massachussets, said in a statement following the ruling.
"While this fine may be historically high for a COPPA breach, it is not high enough to harm children and prevent future violations by other companies."
Additional coverage by Rhett Jones