According to the latest news, TikTok is facing a lawsuit regarding privacy concerns in London. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of millions of children in the UK. The lawsuit accuses TikTok’s parent company ByteDance of violation of the UK and European Union data protection laws.
In a statement, on Wednesday, the group behind the lawsuit said the lawsuit seeks to stop TikTok from “illegally processing millions of children’s information”. They demand the company to delete any personal information collected.
As per their claim, from May 2018 onwards, the company has collected the private personal information of every child that has used the app. It is done regardless of their account status or privacy settings. The information is collected for the benefit of unknown third parties. The lawsuit was filed by Anne Longfield, England’s former Children’s Commissioner.
European Union data protection regulators pledged to coordinate potential investigations into the Chinese company last year. It established a task force to get a better understanding of “TikTok’s processing and practices.” The lawsuit follows increased scrutiny of the app by several EU data watchdogs.
It is worth mention that back in 2019, in the US, Bytedance was fined $5.7 million (43 crores) by the Federal Trade Commission. In the US, ByteDance was accused of renaming Musical.ly to TikTok after buying it and illegally collecting information from minors. Till date, it was the largest FTC penalty in a children’s privacy case. ByteDance is also seeking permission to settle a privacy suit in the US.
On the other hand, TikTok defended itself by claiming that the London lawsuit “lacked merit”. The company said in a statement, “Privacy and safety are top priorities for TikTok. We have robust policies, processes, and technologies in place to help protect all users and our teenage users in particular.”
Note that the lawsuit in London was filed back in December 2020 but details were released last Wednesday. If the London lawsuit becomes successful, children could be entitled to thousands of pounds in compensation. The group that filed the case estimates more than 3.5 million kids are affected in the UK alone. This means the app will be charged a hefty bill if it is unable to prove its innocence.
In an email, Longfield said “Behind the fun songs, dance challenges and lip-sync trends lies something far more sinister. TikTok is a data collection service that is thinly-veiled as a social network.”
A London based Judge granted a 12-year-old girl anonymity last year to avoid her receiving online bullying by other app users. That girl is a leading claimant in the case.