• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG


Updated Jun 18, 2024, 5:28pm EDT
techpoliticsNorth America

FTC refers TikTok complaint to Justice Department

TikTok
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The News

The US Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday said it had referred a complaint against TikTok and its parent company ByteDance to the US Justice Department over concerns the platform violated children’s privacy.

The agency said that it had reason to believe the social media app may be “violating or ... about to violate the law” with regards to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The Commission does not typically make the fact that it has referred a complaint public, but had “determined that doing so here is in the public interest,” the FTC said.

AD

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said at a Senate hearing in January that the company employed about 40,000 people responsible for trust and safety operations, but he admitted that he did not know how many underage users used the platform.

The DOJ referral is the latest headache for TikTok: US President Joe Biden this year signed a bill that would give TikTok up to one year to sell the platform to a US company or face being banned from app stores. TikTok is currently suing the government over the bill, claiming it violates its rights under the First Amendment.

Title icon

Know More

In 2019 a previous version of the app, Musical.ly, settled with the FTC for $5.7 million over alleged violations of a children’s privacy law.

AD

Politico first reported that the FTC was debating whether to sue TikTok for violating the terms of the 2019 settlement or to “bring some combination of a new case” under COPPA. It remains unclear whether the referral is tied to the settlement or a separate case.

TikTok has also faced scrutiny in Europe over child privacy laws: European regulators last year fined the app nearly $370 million for nudging users to select more intrusive privacy settings when registering and posting videos, potentially exposing minors to malicious users.

Semafor Logo
AD