large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

TikTok gets slapped with record firm for hoovering up US kids data

Short-form video app TikTok has been slapped with a $5.7m (£4.28m) fine, the largest of its kind, in the US for its relaxed approach to hoovering up childrens data.

TikTok has been downloaded some 200m times worldwide, with 65m downloads in the US alone, and it’s in the US where the app is getting a slapped wrist. It’s always been popular with a younger audience, and it is now paying for previous mistakes when it comes to obtaining user consent, specifically part of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which says companies looking to collect personal information need parental consent before they get the data of those under 13.

Related: MWC 2019

According to the Federal Trade Commission, TikTok’s parent company Inc knew that it had a chunk of users under the age of 13 and had “received thousands of complaints from parents.”

TikTok rebranded from last August, and the FTC allegedly claimed that a perfect storm of open messaging structure, profile pages that are automatically started as public and a large amount of users under the age of 13 created “public reports of adults trying to contact children via the app.” which led to the FTC taking action.

Related: Best PC Games

This has resulted in the fine, in addition to TikTok making changes to comply with COPPA restrictions moving forwards. Users in the US will be prompted to re-verify their age, and anyone below the age of 13 is going to be punted from the service, with their videos being deleted.

It’s a landmark fine, especially considering tech companies routinely get criticised for overstepping when it comes to privacy. In a blog post, TikTok claims that it’ll be making changes to accomodate younger US users in a limited separate app experience that cranks up the safety and privacy.

Is your kid using TikTok? Having fun with Vine’s spiritual successor? Let us know on Twitter at @TrustedReviews

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.