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The FTC might sue TikTok over its handling of users’ privacy and security

The investigation is yet another source of pressure for the company as it tries to secure its future in the US.

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TikTok, already fighting a proposed law that could lead to a ban of the app in the United States, may soon also find itself in the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is close to wrapping up a multiyear investigation into the company, which could result in a lawsuit or major fine, Politico reports.

The investigation is reportedly centered around the app’s privacy and security practices, including its handling of children’s user data. According to Politico, the FTC is looking into potential violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), as well as “allegations that the company misled its users by stating falsely that individuals in China do not have access to U.S. user data.” TikTok could also be penalized for violating the terms of its 2019 settlement with regulators over data privacy.

While it’s not clear if the FTC’s investigation will result in a lawsuit or other action, the investigation is yet another source of pressure for the company as it tries to secure its future in its largest market.. After a quick passage in the House, the Senate is considering a bill that would force TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app or face an outright ban in the US. The Biden Administration, which has also tried to pressure ByteDance to divest TikTok, is backing the measure and US intelligence officials have briefed lawmakers on the alleged national security risks posed by the app.

TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.