Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The Chinese video-sharing app TikTok agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle allegations that an app it merged with illegally collected personal information from children under 13, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday.
The commission said the fine is the largest civil penalty it has ever imposed in a child privacy case.
Federal law requires websites to obtain confirmable consent from parents before collecting personal information from children. The agency filed a complaint with the Justice Department saying that Musical.ly, which is now TikTok, violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
"The operators of Musical.ly - now known as TikTok - knew many children were using the app but they still failed to seek parental consent before collecting names, email addresses, and other personal information from users under the age of 13," FTC chairman Joe Simons said in a statement.
"This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children: We take enforcement of COPPA very seriously, and we will not tolerate companies that flagrantly ignore the law," he continued.
Along with creating and sharing videos, the app allowed users to interact with other users by commenting on their videos and sending direct messages. Their public accounts displayed a child's profile bio, username, picture and videos.
The FTC said TikTok has registered 65 million accounts in the United States since 2014 and more than 200 million globally.
TikTok is owned by the startup ByteDance, which has more than 500 million users around the world, CNN reported. The FTC's fine, though, targets only Musical.ly, which merged with TikTok in August 2018.
Musical.ly received thousands of complaints from parents accusing it of creating accounts for their children without their authorization.