FTC Imposes Record COPPA Fine

Children at computers: COPPA establishes basic online privacy protections for children under the age of 13

Continuing its aggressive approach to the enforcement of privacy law violations, the FTC last week imposed on Musical.ly, Inc., the operator of the popular TikTok app (formerly called Musical.ly), a record-setting fine of $5.7 million for the company’s violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”).

COPPA establishes basic online privacy protections for children under the age of 13 and generally requires parental consent for the collection and sharing of any personal data for children younger than 13. The TikTok app allows users to make videos of themselves lip-syncing to popular songs and then post those videos online. In the process, significant personal information is shared and available for public viewing. The FTC cited the company’s failure, among other things, to obtain appropriate parental consent for this activity and its failure to disclose to its users the general availability of a user’s personal information.

In addition to the substantial fine, the company is required to delete all videos from users under age 13 and fully comply with COPPA going forward, including the requirements to obtain appropriate parental consent for the activity of users under age 13 and to update the disclosure of its privacy practice.

The FTC Order in this case can be accessed here.