Legal Challenges Against TikTok for Breaching Child Privacy Policy

  • Richard Marley
  • January 20, 2021
  • 2 minutes read
  • 2118

TikTok, the most trending social media application in the present times is facing legal actions for violating the UK’s child protection policies. They have been sued by a 12-year old girl from the UK. The girl, whose identity remains anonymous, has been given Anee Longfeild’s support, who is England’s commissioner for child protection. According to the commissioner, the app violates the UK and EU laws.  

The girl has been granted anonymity by the court to avoid cyberbullying by the influencers or users of the app. BBC reports that it is hoped the case will be taken to the court which will result in improved data privacy policies of the minor by the app. The case will require the deleting of the application’s data of the minors.

 TikTok collects data for the purpose of advertisement. However, the majority of the user base of the app is of teenagers. According to a report by The New York Times, one-third of the TikTok users are 14-year-old minors. This is not the first time the app has been penalized for violating data protection policy. In 2019, FTC fined $5.7 million for violating the privacy laws of the USA regarding minor protection. After this lawsuit, the app was forced to take down the videos of children under the age of 13. A separate section was created for the use of minors only. 

TikTok has been under strict scrutiny by the US and a ban has been proposed by the presidential body which is yet to materialize. TikTok’s privacy policy states that they only ask for limited information like name, username, password, and birthday. However, the rest of the data can be collected from the device including the IP address, country-level location, ID, and app activity etc. 

The app’s privacy policy has changed in January 2020 which states in detail how the user data will be shared. Enza Iannopollo, privacy analyst at Forrester said, “When you have a child accessing a digital tool, there are unique concerns for the data to be actually stored and tracked, different regions might define children’s age differently. Some countries will say 16, others will say 13.”

She also added that whatever the age of the child is, parental or guardian consent must be required to use the application.