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TikTok Suitors Urged to Improve App’s Kids Data Protection

(Image credit: TikTok)

Children's privacy advocates are calling on companies looking to potentially purchase TikTok to commit to "comprehensively" improve privacy and data practices when it comes to the millions of children who use the Chinese social media video platform.

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In letters to TikTok suitors Walmart, Microsoft and Oracle, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) outline what they say is TikTok's "extensive" history of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and ask the companies, if they buy TikTok, to pledge to stop collecting and processing data from kids under 13.

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"Whoever purchases TikTok will have access to a treasure trove of ill-gotten, sensitive children’s data," said Josh Golin, executive director of CCFC. "Any new owner must demonstrate their commitment to protecting young people’s privacy by immediately deleting any data that was illegally obtained from children under 13."

President Trump issued an executive order Aug. 6 that would ban the TikTok app in the U.S. unless parent ByteDance can find an American buyer, which launched the potential merger mating dance.

Related: TikTok Set to Sue Trump Administration

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Center for Digital Democracy were among a coalition of 20 groups that filed a complaint at the Federal Trade Commission in May against TikTok, saying it was not adhering to its February 2019 settlement with the FTC.

TikTok (formerly Musical.ly) agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle the FTC allegation that it had illegally collected personal info from kids. In addition to the settlement, TikTok "agreed to change their practices to ensure COPPA compliance," the FTC said at the time.