American child privacy advocates file a complaint against TikTok for flouting 2019 agreement

Hemani Sheth | Updated on May 15, 2020

Mumbai, May 15 A group of 20 American child advocates have filed a complaint against short video platform TikTok for violating a child privacy agreement that it had singed with the Federal Trade Commission in the United States in 2019 according to a New York Times report.

The Byte-dance owned social media platform had been under the scanner in 2019 after allegations of its earlier version violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) had surfaced.

TikTok had paid a $5.7 million fine to the FTC in February 2019 for allowing users under the age of 13 to sign up without parental consent, The Verge reported.

Under the terms of the agreement made post-settlement, the platform had also agreed to remove all videos that had been previously uploaded by users under 13.

However, the group of child advocates privacy advocates led by the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, discovered that the platform still had videos created by children under the age of 13 from 2016.

It also stated that the company has not done enough to obtain parental consent of new users. TikTok’s policies for younger users simply “incentivise children to lie about their age,” the complaint states.

“TikTok fails to make reasonable efforts to ensure that a parent of a child receives direct notice of its practices regarding the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information,” the complaint reads. “Indeed, TikTok does not at any point contact the child’s parents to give them notice and does not even ask for contact information for the child’s parents. Thus, TikTok has no means of obtaining verifiable parental consent before any collection, use, or disclosure of children’s personal information as required by the consent decree and COPPA rule.”

The platform last month had announced a new feature called Family Pairing to provide additional controls to parents for monitoring their child’s usage of the short video app.

Additionally, TikTok had also announced that it would be disabling Direct Messages for users under the age of 16.

“Many users start their creator journey at 13 and are introduced to a wider array of app options for download, making it a critical time for teens and their families to learn about digital literacy and smart online behaviour,” the company had said in an official blog post.

Published on May 15, 2020

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