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FTC May Sue or Settle with TikTok in Privacy Probe

 |  March 27, 2024

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is nearing a pivotal juncture in its investigation into the popular short video app TikTok, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance. The FTC could soon conclude its inquiry by either filing a lawsuit or reaching a settlement, shedding light on allegations of privacy and data security lapses.

Politico initially reported on Tuesday the potential FTC action, drawing attention to concerns regarding TikTok’s alleged deceptive practices related to user data. The commission has been scrutinizing claims that TikTok and its Beijing-based parent company misled users by denying access to their data by individuals in China. Additionally, there are accusations of violations of children’s privacy laws, amplifying the gravity of the investigation.

Collaborating with the Justice Department, the FTC is deliberating on the best course of action, with the possibility of either litigation or a negotiated settlement. However, as of now, no settlement has been reached, leaving the outcome uncertain.

This investigation operates independently of ongoing anxieties in Congress over the potential exploitation of TikTok’s 170 million U.S. users’ data by the Chinese government. TikTok staunchly refutes these allegations, asserting its robust data security measures to safeguard user information.

Read more: TikTok Updates Data Usage Regulations To Fit EU Laws

The regulatory spotlight on TikTok intensified earlier in March when the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill mandating ByteDance to divest TikTok’s U.S. assets within six months or face a ban, citing national security imperatives. However, the Senate’s stance remains undecided, prompting calls from the White House for “swift action.” President Joe Biden has pledged to endorse the bill, underscoring the bipartisan concern over the app’s data practices.

This isn’t the first time ByteDance has grappled with legal ramifications in the U.S. In 2021, the company agreed to a $92 million settlement to resolve data privacy claims from some American TikTok users, underscoring the persistent regulatory challenges faced by the popular video-sharing platform.

Source: Politico