US senators seek probe into alleged violation of children’s privacy by TikTok

FILE PHOTO: A person holds a smartphone as Tik Tok logo is displayed behind in this picture illustration taken November 7, 2019. Picture taken November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Four U.S. senators, including a China hawk, urged the Federal Trade Commission on Friday to investigate allegations that the popular video app TikTok violated a consent decree protecting children’s privacy.

In their letter, lawmakers noted a report by the Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and others saying that Chinese-owned TikTok had failed to take down videos made by children under age 13 as it agreed under a 2019 consent agreement with the FTC.

In addition, the report said, TikTok failed to provide parents with “direct notice” of data practices before collecting information on children and did not put a link to its privacy policy on its home page, as required under the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

“Faced with compelling evidence that this wildly popular social media platform is blatantly flouting binding U.S. privacy rules, the FTC should move swiftly to launch an investigation and forcefully hold violators accountable,” said the letter, which was signed by Democratic Senators Ed Markey, an author of COPPA, and Richard Blumenthal.

It was also signed by Republican Senators Josh Hawley, a critic of big social media and China, and Marsha Blackburn.

A TikTok spokeswoman said in an email that the company “takes the issue of safety seriously for all our users, and we continue to further strengthen our safeguards and introduce new measures to protect young people on the app.”

Fourteen Democrats on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee have also urged the FTC in a letter to open a probe of TikTok.

Two Republicans on the same committee wrote to TikTok itself to press for information about its collection of information about children and ties to the Chinese government. The letter was addressed to Zhang Yiming, founder and chief executive of TikTok owner ByteDance.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.