TikTok Faces Court Case Seeking Billions Over Children’s Data Collection And Use

A new legal challenge is being faced by the Chionese owned short video sharing app TikTok form the former children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield over the issue of the manner in which the app collects and uses children’s data.

The legal challenge has been filed on behalf of millions of children in the United Kingdom and European Union who have used the hugely popular short video sharing app. If the claim is successful, every child user of the app could get thousands of pounds.

TikTok said the case was without merit and it would fight it.

Personal information of children, including their phone numbers, videos, exact location and biometric data, is gathered by the Chinese app without sufficient warning to the children or their parents and without transparency or the necessary consent required by law, the case is expected to argue. Allegations that TikTok also is not transparent about what is being done with the information from the children to either the children or their parents, are also expected to be levelled against the app.

“Privacy and safety are top priorities for TikTok and we have robust policies, processes and technologies in place to help protect all users, and our teenage users in particular. We believe the claims lack merit and intend to vigorously defend the action,” the short video sharing app said in response.

With more than 800 million users worldwide, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance roped in billions in profits last year and the vast majority of the profits coming from advertising revenues.

The court case will be launched on behalf of all children who have used TikTok since 25 May 2018 regardless of whether they have an account or their privacy settings.

Children not wishing to be represented can opt out.

TikTok had “excessive” data collection policies even while all social media platforms collected information which has prompted her to focus on the Chinese app, Longfield said in a television interview.

“TikTok is a hugely popular social media platform that has helped children keep in touch with their friends during an incredibly difficult year. However, behind the fun songs, dance challenges and lip-sync trends lies something far more sinister.”

The Chinese owned company is “a data collection service that is thinly veiled as a social network” which has “deliberately and successfully deceived parents”, she further alleged.

The parents of the children using TikTok have the ‘right to know” what private information of the children the app is gathering via its “shadowy data collection practices”, she added.

Law firm Scott and Scott is representing the case. He believed the information collected by TikTok represents “a severe breach of UK and EU data protection law”, said partner Tom Southwell.

“TikTok and ByteDance’s advertising revenue is built on the personal information of its users, including children. Profiting from this information without fulfilling its legal obligations, and its moral duty to protect children online, is unacceptable.”

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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