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US escalates pressure on TikTok regarding child privacy issues

US escalates pressure on TikTok regarding child privacy issues

US escalates pressure on TikTok regarding child privacy issues

US escalates pressure on TikTok regarding child privacy issues

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  • The investigation uncovered “reasons to believe” that the firms are violating or are about to violate the law.
  • The DOJ declined to comment on the substance of the referral, stating that they consulted with FTC in advance.
  • The FTC’s announcement increases pressure on TikTok in the US.
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The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has referred a complaint against TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for potential violations of children’s privacy. The FTC stated that its investigation “uncovered reason to believe” that the firms “are violating or are about to violate the law”.

In a statement to BBC News, a TikTok spokesperson expressed disappointment with the decision. The case remains separate from legislation passed earlier this year that could ban TikTok in the US if ByteDance does not sell the business.

The regulator stated that its investigation focused on potential violations of the FTC Act and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Additionally, the FTC mentioned that it typically does not announce referring a complaint to the DOJ but decided it was in the public interest to do so in this instance.

COPPA governs how online services collect, use, and disclose personal information about children under 13 years old. The FTC Act addresses “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” by companies.

In response, a TikTok spokesperson stated that the company disagreed with the allegations and had “been working with the FTC for more than a year to address its concerns.”

“We’re disappointed the agency is pursuing litigation instead of continuing to work with us on a reasonable solution,” they added.

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A DOJ spokesperson told BBC News they “cannot comment on the substance of the referral from the FTC against TikTok.”

“Consistent with our normal approach, the Justice Department consulted with FTC in advance of this referral and will continue to do so as we consider the claims,” they added.

The FTC’s announcement increases the growing pressure on TikTok in the US. In April, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that gave ByteDance a maximum of a year to sell the app or face a ban in the country.

That means the deadline is likely to fall sometime in 2025 after the winner of the 2024 presidential election takes office. The law aimed to address concerns that TikTok might share user data with Chinese authorities – claims the company has denied.

In May, TikTok filed a lawsuit seeking to block that legislation, arguing that it constitutes an “extraordinary intrusion on the free speech rights” of the company and its 170 million American users.

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