FTC refers TikTok complaint to the DOJ

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) referred a complaint against TikTok related to children’s safety law violations to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the agency said Tuesday.

The complaint is based on a compliance review of TikTok, formerly known as Musical.ly, following a 2019 settlement over violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

“The investigation uncovered reason to believe named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and that a proceeding is in the public interest, so the Commission has voted to refer a complaint to the DOJ,” the FTC said in a statement.

The commission does not typically publicly announce if a complaint has been referred, as outlined in the FTC Act, but it did so “in the matter of public interest,” according to the statement.

A TikTok spokesperson said the company has been working with the FTC for more than a year to address its concerns and is “disappointed the agency is pursuing litigation instead of continuing to work with us on a reasonable solution.”

“We strongly disagree with the FTC’s allegations, many of which relate to past events and practices that are factually inaccurate or have been addressed. We’re proud of and remain deeply committed to the work we’ve done to protect children and we will continue to update and improve our product,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The spokesperson added that TikTok offers an “an age-appropriate experience with stringent safeguards.”

In 2019, TikTok agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle allegations that the company illegally collected personal information from children.

This year, TikTok has faced separate government pressure. In addition to facing questions from a Senate panel, alongside other tech companies, about kids’ safety, a law was passed in April that would ban TikTok if it is not sold from its Chinese-based parent company ByteDance.

TikTok filed a lawsuit in May that seeks to block the law, arguing it violates the First Amendment.

Updated at 5:50 p.m.

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