On Wednesday, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, reached a settlement with a group of parents. Previously, the plaintiffs accused the company of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting and exposing data and personal information about minors. Gary Klinger, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case, confirmed the incident to the media, The Verge, but declined to comment or disclose further details. A spokesman for the company said in a statement that despite objections to most of the complaints, some sort of “settlement” was reached.
(Pictured: Google Play, via TheVerge)
A TikTok spokesman told TheVerge: “The TikTok is committed to protecting the data of its users, especially younger users. While we do not agree with much of what is described in the complaint, we have been cooperating with the parties concerned and are pleased to be able to resolve these issues”.
The company declined to disclose details of the terms of the settlement, but the plaintiff’s complaint was made that the Musical.ly app (now renamed TikTok) failed to provide adequate safeguards to prevent children from using the app.
If a minor under the age of 13 creates an account, the app will require him or her to fill in personally identifiable information, including personal data such as name, phone number, email address, photo, etc., and make it available to other users.
The app collected data on minors, including location information, between December 2015 and October 2016, the complaint said. The move is suspected of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
The content allegedly collected would violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which explicitly prohibits social media such as Facebook and TikTok from collecting data on children under the age of 13 without the express consent of a parent or guardian.
TikTok has grown rapidly, with more than 110 million downloads in the United States alone. At the same time, some complaints have drawn the attention of regulators and lawmakers.
Earlier this year, the FTC reached a $5.7 million settlement for TikTok’s violation of COPPA, similar to the client claims represented by Gary Klinger,” as mentioned in this article.
In a statement in September, FTC Chairman Joe Simons said the app is still collecting user data for underage users, knowing that many children are using it without the consent of their parents or guardians.