TikTok is facing a legal challenge from former children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield over how it collects and uses children’s data.
The claim is being filed on behalf of many children within the UK and EU who have used the hugely popular video-sharing app.
If successful, the youngsters affected could each be owed thousands of pounds.
TikTok said the case was without merit and it might fight it.
Lawyers will allege that TikTok takes children’s personal information, including phone numbers, videos, exact location, and biometric data, without sufficient warning, transparency, or the required consent required by law, and without children or parents knowing what’s being through with that information.
In response, the video-sharing app said: “Privacy and safety are top priorities for TikTok and that we have robust policies, processes and technologies in situ to assist protect all users, and our teenage users especially. We believe the claims lack merit and shall vigorously defend the action.”
TikTok has quite 800 million users worldwide and parent firm ByteDance made billions in profits last year, with the overwhelming majority of that coming via advertising revenue.
The claim is being launched on behalf of all children who have used TikTok since 25 May 2018, no matter whether or not they have an account or their privacy settings. Children not wishing to be represented can cop out.
Ms. Longfield said she was that specialized in TikTok because, while all social media platforms collected information, TikTok had “excessive” data collection policies.
“TikTok may be a hugely popular social media platform that has helped children confine touch with their friends during an incredibly difficult year. However, behind the fun songs, dance challenges and lip-sync trends lie something much more sinister.”
She alleges the firm is “a data collection service that’s thinly veiled as a social network” which has “deliberately and successfully deceived parents”.
She added that those parents have a “right to know” what private information is being collected via TikTok’s “shadowy data collection practices”.
The case is being represented by firm Scott and Scott. Partner Tom Southwell said he believed the knowledge collected by TikTok represents “a severe breach of UK and EU data protection law”.
“TikTok and ByteDance’s advertising revenue is made on the private information of its users, including children. taking advantage of this information without fulfilling its legal obligations, and its moral duty to guard children online is unacceptable.”