TikTok Is Allegedly Collecting Data from 3.5 Million Kids Under 12 Illegally

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A new report claims TikTok’s facing a new landmark case over allegations that the popular video-sharing app illegally collects information of children under the age of 12.

Anne Longfield, a former children’s commissioner for England, lodged a claim in the High Court alleging that the TikTok app has breached the UK and EU children’s data protection law by taking children’s information with insufficient transparency, warning, or consent. 

Over 3.5 Million Children Would Have Been Affected

A report from Ofcom determined that in 2020 42% of children using TikTok in the UK were 8 to 12 years old.

Longfield thinks the same, believing that TikTok’s way of collecting information has affected over 3.5 million children in the UK alone, which was the reason that led her to lodge the claim on behalf of millions of children in the UK and the European Economic Area who have used TikTok since 2018

Longfield’s goal is to make TikTok stop processing the information of children as well as deleting the data they already have. She also wants a paid compensation that she believes could run into billions of pounds.

“We’re not trying to say that it’s not fun. Families like it. It’s been something that’s been really important over lockdown, it’s helped people keep in touch, they’ve had lots of enjoyment. But my view is that the price to pay for that shouldn’t be there – for their personal information to be illegally collected en masse, and passed on to others, most probably for financial gain, without them even knowing about it,” said Longfield.

“And the excessive nature of that collection is something which drove us to [challenge] TikTok rather than others. It’s the fact that, for this [age] group of children it is the app of choice but also it’s the kind of information they’re collecting – it can’t possibly be appropriate for a video app, especially exact location, and probably face recognition as well.”

What TikTok Says About This

After Anne Longfield filed the case, TikTok made a statement saying the statement lacks merit and that the company will defend the actions filed against them.

“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,” said a spokesperson from TikTok.

It’s worth mentioning that TikTok’s privacy policy says that only people over the age of 13 can use the app. That said, there isn’t any way to stop kids from accessing the app, other than parental supervision. Longfield claims that “kids can’t give consent” and that the way TikTok handles personal data was “disproportionate.”

This isn’t the first time ByteDance, the company that legally owns TikTok, faces legal issues for collecting children’s data. Just last year, the US fined ByteDance for 5.7 million dollars for collecting the data of children under the age of 13.

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