TikTok owner Bytedance on Wednesday reached a settlement with a group of parents in the US who filed a lawsuit against the company for illegally collecting and exposing children’s data and personal information, The Verge reported.

Why it matters: US lawmakers have been questioning TikTok’s content filtering and data collection practices, arguing that the platform poses potential national security risks.

  • Bytedance denied all such allegations but has moved to separate TikTok from its Chinese operations as an assurance to US authorities.

Details: The settlement came just a day after the parents filed the lawsuit in which they accused the company of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

  • Neither the plaintiffs’ lawyer nor TikTok disclosed details of the settlement, but both sides confirmed that an agreement had been reached.
  • TikTok said in a statement to The Verge that while the company disagrees with most of what was alleged in the complaint, it is pleased to have come to a resolution.
  • In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, the parents claimed that Musical.ly, which was acquired by Bytedance in 2017 and rebranded into TikTok, failed to prevent children under 13 from using the app. The app collects and makes public personally identifying information such as names, phone numbers, and email addresses even when users are minors under 13.
  • The parents also accused the platform of collecting user location data between December 2015 and October 2016.
  • COPPA prohibits social media companies from collecting data from children under 13 without the express consent of their guardians.

Context: TikTok reached a $5.7 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in February for COPPA violations. Following the settlement, TikTok introduced an update to limit account features for users younger than 13.

  • TikTok has also been criticized recently for content moderation policies that hid videos from users it deemed susceptible to cyberbullying, including those with disabilities.

Bytedance moves to separate TikTok from its Chinese operations

Tony Xu

Tony Xu is Shanghai-based tech reporter. Connect with him via e-mail: tony.xu@technode.com

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