Tech World

FTC starts an investigation into TikTok’s privacy policies 

As well as facing the possibility of a ban in the US, the social media platform is now the subject of an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC’s enquiry focuses on the company’s data privacy practices after concerns were raised about potential breaches of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule and the FTC Act. 

As the formal investigation by the FTC nears its conclusion, consumers can expect one of two outcomes in the coming weeks: either a settlement between TikTok and the FTC, or the FTC filing a lawsuit against TikTok, leading the case to be transferred to the Department of Justice.

The first of the FTC’s worries regarding the app is its handling of users’ personal data. A key area of concern is the possible infringement of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, which aims to safeguard the personal data of young internet users. 

This rule prohibits websites or online services from collecting information from users under the age of 13 without their knowledge or parental consent.

Furthermore, discussions among lawmakers have revolved around whether ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has provided Chinese authorities with access to the personal information of U.S. users. 

Although both companies have refrained from commenting on the FTC’s investigation, TikTok had previously insisted that Chinese officials had never accessed the personal information of U.S. users. However, the FTC suspects TikTok and ByteDance have been violating a section of the FTC Act that empowers the agency to define and prevent deceptive or unfair practices.

As part of its investigation, the FTC aims to gain a deeper understanding of how TikTok and ByteDance have been utilizing and accessing consumers’ data. Lawmakers are advocating for ByteDance to divest its stake in TikTok or for the app to be banned nationwide. However, it remains uncertain whether officials will proceed with such legislation.

Despite the swift progress of the bill through the House of Representatives and President Biden’s readiness to sign it into law if it advances, momentum has stalled in the Senate. Lawmakers are unable to reach a consensus on the most appropriate course of action.

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