Photo Illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A coalition of children's advocacy groups accused video-sharing platform TikTok of violating children's privacy and called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate in a complaint Thursday.

Why it matters: TikTok is facing heat from Washington over concerns about how well it's protecting kids who use its wildly popular app — and it paid $5.7 million last year to settle an FTC investigation alleging that a predecessor app illegally obtained children's personal information.

Details: The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the Center for Digital Democracy and others argue TikTok has not lived up to the terms of last year's FTC settlement and continues to violate the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by:

  • Failing to destroy personal information of users under 13 years old that was collected prior to the 2019 settlement.
  • Not giving proper notice to parents or obtaining their consent before collecting kids' personal information.
  • Not allowing parents to review or delete their children's personal information.

The other side: TikTok is working to alert lawmakers to its recent efforts to address a variety of concerns that have been raised on Capitol Hill, confirming to Axios that it circulated a packet among House and Senate offices this week describing its U.S. presence, its privacy policies and its work on child safety.

  • The company announced plans last month to give parents' greater control over how their teens use the app, and turned off direct messages for users under 16.
  • “We take privacy seriously and are committed to helping ensure that TikTok continues to be a safe and entertaining community for our users," a TikTok spokesperson said in response to the complaint.

Go deeper

Trump issues order banning TikTok if not sold within 45 days

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans and U.S. companies will be banned from making transactions with ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok, in 45 days, according to a new executive order President Trump issued Thursday evening.

The big picture: Last week Trump announced his intention to ban TikTok but said he'd leave a 45-day period for Microsoft or other U.S.-based suitors to try to close a deal to acquire the popular video-sharing app.

Aug 7, 2020 - Technology

TikTok responds to Trump executive order: "We are shocked"

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

TikTok said Friday that it was "shocked" by President Trump's executive order that will ban Americans from dealing with ByteDance, its China-based owner, in 45 days.

Why it matters: TikTok argued that Trump's move "risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth."

Trump's TikTok and WeChat actions ratchet up the pressure on China

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump escalated his campaign to claw apart the Chinese and American tech worlds Thursday evening, issuing executive orders that threaten to ban both TikTok and massive global messaging app WeChat.

The big picture: Trump's orders come against a backdrop of heightening tension with China, the steady unfolding of a hard "decoupling" between the world's two largest economies, and the Trump campaign's effort to wave a "tough on China" banner.