A former children’s commissioner in England filed a lawsuit against video platform TikTok on Wednesday (21/04/2021) accusing it of illegally collecting personal data from millions of children in the UK and Europe.
Anne Longfield has filed a lawsuit against TikTok and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, on behalf of children aged 16 in the European Union and 13 in the United Kingdom, anticipating billions of pounds in damages. She says around 3.5 million minors are anxious in the UK.
Longfield estimates that all children who have used TikTok since May 2018, that is, since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, whether or not they have an account, may be affected by this data collection. This personal information includes phone numbers, videos, photos, contact location, or even biometric data, such as facial recognition.
“Behind the funny songs, or the challenges of dancing or running, there is something more harmful,” Longfield said.
He added, “We want TikTok to end its questionable data collection practices, and we demand that it delete all private information that was obtained illegally when children use the app.”
The complaint, also filed by Scott + Scott, the law firm, alleges that TikTok is collecting data without adequate notice, without transparency and without seeking consent, as required by law.
TikTok responded to the allegations
According to plaintiffs, TikTok, which has 800 million users worldwide, is intentionally “opaque” about its use of the data, “of incredible value” for the company, whose parent company ByteDance, registered in the Cayman Islands, is supposed to achieve nearly $ 30,000 million in revenue for 2020, two-thirds of that comes from advertising.
A TikTok spokesperson responded to the allegations, saying the complaint was “baseless” and that the company “intends to defend itself vigorously.”
The representative added: “Privacy and security are TikTok’s top priorities and we have strong practices and technologies to protect all users, and teens in particular.”
The video platform TikTok was already fined $ 5.7 million in the United States in February 2019 for illegally collecting personal data from children under the age of 13, including their names, emails and mailing addresses.
JU (afp, theguardian.com, news.sky.com, bbc.com)