A group of privacy protection organizations filed a lawsuit with the US Federal Trade Commission on May 14, accusing the popular app TikTok of violating a consent order and a law protecting children’s online privacy.
The Digital Democracy Center, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and others said that TikTok failed to withdraw all videos produced by children under the age of 13 because it agreed to do so in accordance with the consent agreement reached with the FTC announced in February 2019.
In response to the new complaint, TikTok ’s spokesperson Hilary McQuaide said: “We take privacy seriously and are committed to helping ensure that TikTok continues to be our users’ safety and entertainment community.
As part of the agreement, the Federal Trade Commission stated that TikTok, known as Musical.ly at the time, knew that young children were using the app and that it was not able to collect their names, email addresses, and other personal information without parental consent. It paid a fine of USD 5.7 million (RM 24.7 million).
However, privacy advocates say that TikTok failed to delete the personal information of its users 12 years old and below because it was part of the agreement.
They said in the complaint: “We found that TikTok currently has many ordinary account holders under the age of 13, and many of them still have their own videos, which can be traced back to 2016, a few years before the consent order was issued.”
TikTok’s decision to create accounts for children 12 years of age and younger and with fewer features failed to meet the requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act because the company is still collecting information and sharing it with third parties who wish to use the information. The team also said that if the children are dishonest, they can easily avoid using the kid ’s version of the app.