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TikTok sued for billions over 'sinister' collection of children's data

Gabby Fernie

Social media giant TikTok is facing legal proceedings from former children's commissioner for England Anne Longfield over how it collects and uses children's data, the BBC reports. 

In its report, the BBC says that the claim is being filed on behalf of all children in the UK and EU who have used TikTok since 25 May 2018, regardless of their privacy settings. If successful, the children affected could be owed thousands of pounds. 

It is alleged that the social media platform takes children’s personal data, including exact locations and biometric data, phone numbers and videos, without any warning or consent as required by law. Children and parents have no knowledge as to what is done with that information. 

TikTok has more than 800m users worldwide, with 100m users in Europe alone. 

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

She describes the platform as "a data collection service that is thinly veiled as a social network" and believes that parents have a right to know what private information is being collected on their children. 

TikTok has responded with the statement: "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."

However, this is not the first major lawsuit that the social media platform has faced. 

In 2019 the firm were fined a record $5.7m USD (£4.09m GBP) over their lip-syncing platform Musical.ly, which knowingly hosting content published by users under the age of 13. 

TikTok were ordered to delete the data and set up an age verification system, yet figures suggest that many under-13s use the platform.