TikTok violates kids' privacy, advocates warn

The Chinese-owned video app TikTok may be violating children’s privacy and putting at risk, advocates warned in a Thursday complaint.

A coalition of 20 groups, including Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy, filed a complaint Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission saying that TikTok is collecting personal information of kids under 13 without their parents' consent.

Privacy watchdogs say that the popular TikTok video app is violating a children’s privacy law and putting kids at risk. T

Privacy watchdogs say that the popular TikTok video app is violating a children’s privacy law and putting kids at risk. T (AP)

TikTok has exploded in popularity with young people thanks to its goofy, lighthearted feel and ease of use. But it’s also drawn scrutiny from U.S. officials concerned about national-security risks due to its Chinese ownership and its popularity with young people.

TikTok paid an exorbitant fine to the FTC in 2019 for collecting personal information from pre-teens in violation of the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. The company revamped its app with a restricted mode for youngsters.

But the privacy groups say kids can easily use TikTok without parental consent. Kids can sign up with a fake birth date to use the full, adult version of the app, "putting them at risk for both TikTok's commercial data uses and inappropriate contact from adults," the groups said in a joint news release.

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TikTok uses the data it collects from users, like their location, what's in their messages and what videos they watch, to figure out what new videos to show them and for targeted advertising.

The FTC said it has received the complaint but had no comment on it.

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TikTok did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.