TikTok faces investigation for how it handles data and safety of underage users

By Faisal Saeed on
July 3, 2019
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The famous music lip-sync app TikTok is being investigated in the UK for how it manages the personal data and ensures the safety of children. The information commissioner Elizabeth Denham told the parliamentary committee that the investigation has started in February after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged the app with $5.7 million fine for breaking the privacy of underage users.

Denham stated that the trade commission is investigating how TikTok gathers private data of users, and the concerns related to open messaging system, which may allow adult users to contact underage users easily. She further added,

“We are looking at the transparency tools for children. We’re looking at the messaging system, which is completely open, we’re looking at the kind of videos that are collected and shared by children online. We do have an active investigation into TikTok right now, so watch this space”.

Furthermore, the commission will also examine if the famous lip-sync app owned by ByteDance, is violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Under this regulation the companies are required to put special protections in their systems, to present children/underage users with different services than adults.

The FTC’s investigation was started when the TikTok app was still known as Musical.ly. The commission at that time ruled that the app has broken the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by failing to get parental consent before gathering names, email addresses and other personal information from users under 13. After which the app developers added an age gate in it which prevented users under 13 from filming and posting videos on it.

TikTok spokesperson reached out to TechJuice and stated, “Promoting a safe app environment and ensuring privacy of our user community is a top priority for TikTok. We are committed to complying with local laws and regulations and cooperating with organizations to provide relevant information in response to any inquiry”.

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