FTC Refers Complaint About TikTok to DOJ

FTC Refers Complaint About TikTok to DOJ

(USNewsBreak.com) – TikTok has become a wildly popular social media app, with more than 120 million users in the United States. People entertain themselves, follow their favorite celebrities, and promote their businesses using the app. However, while it has its perks, critics have voiced concerns about whether or not the app is safe to use due to the Chinese company behind it. Now, it’s under fire again, this time for alleged child privacy violations. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently referred a complaint filed with the commission to the Justice Department.

What Does the Complaint Entail?

On June 18, the FTC announced in a press release that it had completed an investigation into Musical.ly, its successor app, TikTok, and the company behind both, ByteDance. The agency launched the probe when it began reviewing a settlement of Musical.ly for compliance issues.

The company had previously agreed to pay a $5.7 million penalty to resolve allegations against it. During the probe, the commission said it “uncovered reason to believe” the two were “violating or are about to violate the law.”

The federal law in question is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, COPPA, which mandates that websites and apps geared toward children must obtain parental consent before collecting any personal data from a child under 13. The two companies may also have violated another federal law, the FTC Act, which outlines the agency’s enforcement responsibilities.

Announcing that it was referring the complaint to the Justice Department, the FTC said the action was “in the public interest” even though it was out of the ordinary.

TikTok’s Response

In a statement, Alex Haurek, the company’s spokesperson, said the company and the FTC have worked together for over a year and that the platform was “disappointed” the commission decided to pursue “litigation” rather than working with the company “on a reasonable solution.” The spokesperson also said that TikTok “strongly disagree[d]” with the allegations lobbed against it and many “relate to past events and practices,” some of which the company addressed or determined to be “factually inaccurate.”

The DOJ has refused to comment on the substance of the FTC referral but said it had consulted with the federal agency before making the referral and “will continue to do so.”

TikTok is also facing a potential ban if ByteDance, its Chinese owner, doesn’t divest itself of its interests. The platform and ByteDance are suing the US government to overturn the law mandating the sale.

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