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FTC Refers TikTok Privacy Case To Justice Department

Hands holding a phone with TikTok logo on screen

The Federal Trade Commission has referred its complaint against TikTok and its Chinese parent, ByteDance, to the US Department of Justice. 

This action follows a probe opened after a 2019 settlement with Musical.ly, TikTok’s predecessor.

This was over violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). 

The FTC's probe aimed to determine whether TikTok engaged in "unfair and deceptive" business practices prohibited by federal law.

The FTC found "reason to believe named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law." 

In a rare move, the FTC disclosed the referral, citing the public interest.

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TikTok: “We’re proud of and remain deeply committed to the work we’ve done to protect children and we will continue to update and improve our product"

In January, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said the company employs around 40,000 people in its trust and safety operations.

A TikTok spokesperson said: “We strongly disagree with the FTC’s allegations, many of which relate to past events and practices that are factually inaccurate or have been addressed.

“We’re proud of and remain deeply committed to the work we’ve done to protect children and we will continue to update and improve our product. 

“We offer an age-appropriate experience with stringent safeguards, proactively remove suspected underage users, and have voluntarily launched safety features such as default screentime limits, family pairing, and privacy by default for minors under 16.”

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In addition to the FTC complaint, TikTok faces other legal challenges in the US. 

In May, the company sued the US government.

This was after President Joe Biden signed legislation requiring ByteDance to find a buyer for TikTok within nine months.

If ByteDance fails to secure a buyer, TikTok could face a ban

TikTok said the bill violates the First Amendment and that divestiture is not feasible from commercial, technological, or legal standpoints.

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