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Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

TikTok, a short-form video app owned by Chinese tech giant Bytedance, has agreed to a $5.7 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for illegally collecting personal data from children.

Why it matters: It's the largest settlement from a violation of The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the law's 20+ year history. While $5.7 million may seem small, it's significantly larger than the next biggest COPPA violation, which resulted in a $3 million settlement by Disney-owned social games studio Playdom in 2011.

Details: The complaint, filed to the FTC by the U.S. Justice Department, alleges that Musical.ly (a karaoke app that was acquired and integrated by TikTok's parent company in 2017) obtained the personal information of children under 13 years old without consent.

  • "This ruling underscores what we have long known: Companies like TikTok do not consider children’s personal information out of bounds," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), an author of COPPA. "This fine may be an historic high for a COPPA violation, but it is not high enough for the harm that is done to children."
  • In response to the settlement, TikTok said it updated its app to include additional safety and privacy protections designed specifically for younger U.S. users.

Be smart: TikTok has built a mobile empire and is beginning to compete with the likes of Facebook for the attention of young users.

  • A new report from Digiday finds that TikTok's U.S. user base has grown to 26.5
    million monthly active users, who on average open the app 8 times for a total of 46 minutes per day.
  • New figures from data insights firm SensorTower suggest that TikTok has surpassed 1 billion downloads on iOS and Android.

Our thought bubble: While conversations around children's privacy have increased over the past year alongside the national privacy debate, this case will certainly draw even more attention to the way tech giants mine data through apps targeted to kids.

Go deeper

Ro Khanna wary of Biden approach on Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden meeting Quad amid own pivot toward Asia

Artists paint portraits of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Mumbai, India. Photo: Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

President Biden plans to meet this month with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India in a virtual summit of the so-called Quad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: By putting a Quad meeting on the president’s schedule, the White House is signaling the importance of partnerships and alliances to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.