TikTok is being investigated over children's privacy again, report says

The UK is reportedly following suit after a successful US case against the social video app.

Corinne Reichert Senior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently oversees the CNET breaking news desk for the West Coast. Corinne covers everything from phones, social media and security to movies, politics, 5G and pop culture. In her spare time, she watches soccer games, F1 races and Disney movies.
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Corinne Reichert
Tik Tok media App Illustration

The social video app has drawn controversy.

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The UK is examining how social video app TikTok handles children's data and whether it ensures child safety on its platform, a report says. The investigation follows TikTok paying up $5.7 million to settle US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that it illegally collected personal information from children.

TikTok, which was previously known as Musical.ly, allows users to record themselves lip-synching to music videos and share those clips with friends. The app has reportedly surpassed 1 billion downloads on iOS and Android, with TikTok owner ByteDance now reportedly even working on developing its own phone.

The UK kicked off its own investigation in February, a parliamentary committee has been told by Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

"We do have an active investigation into TikTok right now," Denham reportedly said Tuesday. "We are looking at the transparency tools for children ... the messaging system, which is completely open ... [and] the kind of videos that are collected and shared by children online."

The FTC's case had seen it allege that the app's operators violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by failing to obtain parental consent before collecting personal info on kids under the age of 13. TikTok also didn't delete the personal information after receiving complaints from parents and children.

The day following its $5.7 million payout, TikTok added online safety videos and comment filters to its app.

TikTok didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Watch this: Stronger data privacy laws may be coming to the US