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Maker of music app TikTok settles lawsuit for taking kids' info

(WHSV)
Published: Feb. 27, 2019 at 2:27 PM EST
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The makes of music app TikTok have settled a a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission for $5.7 million.

The FTC alleged that Musical.ly illegally collected personal information from children using the app, violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires that websites and online services directed to children obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.

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. “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.”

TikTok is a free app, formerly known by the maker's name, Musical.ly, which lets you create and share music recordings.

You simply create a 15-second video of yourself lip-synching and dancing and then share it with other users. It has colorful emojis and soundtracks from popular children's movies, which the FTC says were included to attract children to the app.

When someone registers for the app, they have to give a first and last name, phone number, email address, short bio, and profile picture.

But the COPPA Act says that companies must first provide notice to a child's parents and obtain parental consent before collecting personal information online from a child under the age of 13.

According to the FTC, Musical.ly did not get parents’ consent even though Musical.ly knew that many kids were using their app.

As a result of the settlement, the company has to pay the $5.7 million settlement and also take all recordings made by children under 13 offline.

The commission says the Wednesday penalty is the largest ever obtained in a children's privacy case.

The FTC says to learn more about keeping kids' information safe online, check

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You can read more about the settlement

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TikTok says it's starting a separate, more restrictive app for younger U.S. users.

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