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Technology TikTok is illegally collecting data on children, according to new allegations to the FTC

21:08  14 may  2020
21:08  14 may  2020 Source:   businessinsider.com

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a man and a woman taking a selfie: TikTok has been accused of violating children's privacy on its app. Getty © Getty TikTok has been accused of violating children's privacy on its app. Getty
  • A group of 20 advocacy groups have accused TikTok of illegally collecting minors' data in a complaint to the FTC.
  • TikTok reached a settlement with the FTC last year after admitting Musical.ly, an app it bought in 2018, had illegally collected children's personal data without their guardians' permission.
  • The advocacy groups say TikTok has violated the terms of this settlement.
  • TikTok told BI it takes the privacy of minors seriously.

TikTok has been accused of illegally hoovering up minors' data in multiple complaints.

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The first complaint was filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by a group of 20 consumer and child advocacy groups on Thursday. It accuses TikTok, owned by China's ByteDance, of breaking a previous settlement the company reached with the FTC not to collect the personal data of under-13s without their parents' permission.

The settlement was reached last year after TikTok admitted Musical.ly, a US app it absorbed in 2018, had broken the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) by taking the personal data of under-13s. The terms of the settlement included that TikTok would henceforth seek parents' permission to obtain that data and would delete the existing data of underage users — including videos. The settlement came with a $5.7 million fine.

Advocacy group says TikTok violated FTC consent decree and children's privacy rules

  Advocacy group says TikTok violated FTC consent decree and children's privacy rules Advocacy group says TikTok violated FTC consent decree and children's privacy rulesThe Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and others said TikTok had failed to take down all videos made by children under the age of 13, as it agreed to do under a consent agreement with the FTC announced in February 2019.

The groups claim TikTok has not deleted this data as promised.

"We found that TikTok currently has many regular account holders who are under age 13, and many of them still have videos of themselves that were uploaded as far back as 2016, years prior to the consent decree," the groups write.

They also allege: "TikTok has not obtained parental consent for these accounts. Contrary to the terms of the consent decree, TikTok fails to make reasonable efforts to ensure that a parent of a child receives direct notice of its practices regarding the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information."

The groups call on the FTC to launch an investigation into TikTok and "impose additional penalties and safeguards to ensure that children's privacy is protected."

The FTC was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.

Separately, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the company in a Chicago court on Wednesday.

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The main claimant, a minor identified only as "K.M.", claims TikTok collects the biometric data of users using facial scanning and recognition. The Chicago suit mentions concerns voiced by senators including Marco Rubio and Chuck Schumer that as a Chinese-owned company, TikTok may be beholden to the Chinese government.

A TikTok spokesperson told Business Insider: "We take privacy seriously and are committed to helping ensure that TikTok continues to be a safe and entertaining community for our users."

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