TikTok Underage User Privacy Violation Investigation

03.01.2019

Girard Sharp is investigating claims stemming from recent reports that TikTok (formerly Musical.ly) violated the privacy and safety rights of minors, including users under the age of 13. On February 27, 2019, the FTC imposed a $5.7 million fine on TikTok for the alleged violations.

If you are the parent or legal guardian of a minor who is a current or past user of TikTok, you may have a claim for relief. Protect your child’s privacy and contact a Girard Sharp attorney by calling 415.981.4800 or submitting your information below:

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Recent Complaints

TikTok, formerly known as Musical.ly, is a lip-syncing app on which users can create and record 15-second videos of themselves set to music. The app has been installed over a billion times, and after a $3 billion infusion from investors in October, TikTok is now considered one of the most valuable privately-held startups worldwide.

The FTC alleges that the company was aware that “a significant percentage of users are children under 13,” and that it “received thousands of complaints from parents” whose underage children had created accounts without their knowledge. Additionally, the app does not provide a function for users to close their accounts, instead requiring users to send an email to TikTok directly. When accounts were closed, users’ videos or profile information were not removed from TikTok’s servers.

TikTok accounts are public by default, but users could still be messaged even when profiles were set to private. There have been numerous media reports of underage users being solicited to send nude images through the app, and according to an FTC statement, agency staff have “uncovered disturbing practices, including collecting and exposing the location and other sensitive data of young children.”

Based on these alleged practices, which run afoul of state and federal law, parents or guardians of minors who are current or past users of TikTok may have a claim.

Investigation of COPPA Violations

Congress enacted the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) in 1998 to protect the safety and privacy of children by prohibiting any unnecessary or unauthorized collection of personal information of minors online from web pages and online services.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that TikTok violated COPPA by “failing to require parental consent for users under 13, neglecting to notify parents about how the app collected personal information on underage users, and not permitting parents to request to have their children’s data deleted” while knowing that the personal information of children was being collected. According to the FTC, these practices reflected a “willingness to pursue growth even at the expense of endangering children.”

If you are the parent or legal guardian of a minor who is a current or past user of TikTok, you may have a claim for relief. Protect your child’s rights and contact a Girard Sharp attorney by calling 415.981.4800 or submitting the form above.

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Girard Sharp has earned national Tier 1 rankings for Mass Tort and Class Action Litigation and has been named to the U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list each year since 2013. Read about some of our results.

We have successfully resolved cases concerning data breaches, unlawful surveillance, and other unfair business practices against some of the nation’s largest tech companies, including Apple, LG, Yahoo, and Google.

For a free consultation about your potential claims, contact one of our consumer protection lawyers at 415.981.4800 or fill out the form at the top of this page.

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