Fellow Kids

FTC Slams TikTok With Record Fine For Spying on Pre-Teens

"This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children."

2. 28. 19 by Dan Robitzski
Tag Hartman-Simkins
Image by Tag Hartman-Simkins

Hit Or Miss

TikTok, the video-sharing social media app that works like a cursed reincarnation of Vine, just got slapped with a $5.7 million fine for collecting personal information about its pre-teen users.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on Wednesday that TikTok agreed to the settlement after allegations that the app knowingly and illegally stored the names, email addresses, and locations of users under the age of 13. The FTC’s fine is the largest to ever be imposed for a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), according to the FTC’s statement — and a heartening sign that regulators are unwilling to cede privacy protections for young internet users.

Parental Consent

Part of the reason for the severe fine might be because TikTok received thousands of complaints from concerned parents without changing its business practices.

“The operators of Musical.ly — now known as TikTok — knew many children were using the app but they still failed to seek parental consent before collecting names, email addresses, and other personal information from users under the age of 13,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons in the announcement.

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Personal Information

The app reportedly deleted preteens’ accounts when parents requested they do so, but it still held onto the kids’ personal information, according to CNN.

“This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children,” said Simons in the FTC statement. “We take enforcement of COPPA very seriously, and we will not tolerate companies that flagrantly ignore the law.”

READ MORE: TikTok hit with record fine for collecting data on children [CNN]

More on TikTok: Bangladesh Declares “War on Pornography,” Blocks TikTok

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