TikTok, a short-format video sharing app is accused of violating children’s privacy law and the company is ready to pay $5.7 million in compensation, as informed by the Federal Trade Commission. Reportedly, this is the biggest penalty amount ever in the case of children’s privacy. Any such platform must seek parental approval for children under the 13 years of age. Also, all the earlier videos uploaded by teens under the age of 13 will be removed. As per the allegation by FTC, TikTok (and its former app, Musical.ly) illegally collected information from children by not asking for consent from their parents before they signed up. According to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), any social networking app or website must obtain parents’ approval to share content within the app.
Nearly every online service in the States complies with the federal law and asks users to agree to terms that ensure children under 13 refrain from using the product. FTC says, “There were thousands of complaints from parents that their children under 13 had created Musical.ly accounts.”
The company knew that many children were using the app but still failed to take the law seriously and didn’t ask for parents’ consent before collecting their personal data like names, email addresses etc.
TikTok might launch a separate app for kids under 13 that will have extensive control on content and interaction. “In the younger ecosystem, users cannot do things like share their videos on TikTok, comment on others’ videos, message other users, or maintain a profile or followers,” the statement reads.
TikTok has more than 500 million users worldwide out of which a major proportion of users are under the age of 13.