The company behind TikTok, the popular short-form video app that incorporated Musical.ly last year, has agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that it illegally collected personal info from children. “According to the FTC, it’s the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the agency in a children’s privacy case,” reports Variety. From the report: The FTC’s complaint, filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the commission, alleges that Musical.ly violated the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires websites and online services aimed at kids to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under 13. Under the terms of the settlement, TikTok is also required to remove all videos from the app posted by children under the age of 13 and also must comply with COPPA going forward.
In the wake of the FTC fine, TikTok announced in a blog post that on Feb. 27 it is launching a new app environment for users under 13 that does not permit the sharing of personal information and “puts extensive limitations on content and user interaction.” Both current and new TikTok users will be directed to the age-appropriate app experience, beginning Wednesday. In the post, TikTok said in part: “While we’ve always seen TikTok as a place for everyone, we understand the concerns that arise around younger users. In working with the FTC and in conjunction with today’s agreement, we’ve now implemented changes to accommodate younger U.S. users in a limited, separate app experience that introduces additional safety and privacy protections designed specifically for this audience.”
FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement: “This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children: We take enforcement of COPPA very seriously, and we will not tolerate companies that flagrantly ignore the law.”
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