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TikTok Sued By Dutch Parents for Violating Child Privacy Rules

The popular video-sharing app TikTok has experienced many grievances regarding child privacy breaches 👶 since its establishment. The company now faces another grievance in the same area: a parent group from the Netherlands filed a $1.7 billion lawsuit against the company in Amsterdam.

The Market Information Research Foundation, the organization responsible for filing this lawsuit, represents around 64,000 families across the European Union (EU). Its lawsuit accuses TikTok of gathering personal information from children that use the app without ❌ permission. This is considered a violation of the region’s data privacy policies.

The Argument Against TikTok

The case currently has a limited number of parents opting in, perhaps because parents must pay a small fee 💰 to register a claim. Even so, the foundation estimates that a ruling could be applicable to millions of children using the app.

The foundation’s lawyer, Domi Linders, stated that the social media app gathers more information than needed for its function. This can be no laughing matter, he argues. According to the foundation, many children have gone as far as losing their lives after being influenced to participate in dangerous challenges. Linders explained that even if there are no fatalities, children are sometimes left with mental and physical trauma that can have long-lasting damage to their lives.

Child Privacy Is a Continuing Problem for TikTok

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Dutch parents is one of many. Allegations from lawsuits and governments over the last few years are numerous. They often accuse the app of unlawfully gathering personal information from children. Additional, TikTok allegedly isn’t thorough in its age verification of users.

The lawsuit also raises concern about how the platform uses and stores its user-generated data. The concern primarily centers around the Chinese government’s access to TikTok’s data via the app’s parent company, ByteDance.

TikTok claims that it does not authorize users below the age of 13. The app also claims it automatically sets the accounts of thirteen to fifteen-year-olds to private. Finally, the company reportedly doesn’t include content from users under 16 in its feed of recommended content.

TikTok stated that its content regulators consistently 🕵️moderate and remove videos it considers inappropriate for children. The problem is that users have no problem circumventing TikTok’s age parameters. Children can, and do, simply enter a false age into the app when signing up.

Other Countries Are Taking Action

While the EU hasn’t officially banned TikTok, data security regulators have placed the app 📱 under close supervision. And the EU is not alone in raising concern for the platform’s data collection violations.

Last year, US president Donald Trump’s administration announced a block of the app, preventing users from downloading it. The administration cited the same issue of data collection from US user-generated content as the reason for the block. China, it argued, could access this content, making TikTok a security risk. This feud eventually sparked tension between Washington and Beijing, since TikTok is technically a Chinese-owned company.

Many other countries have raised grievances with TikTok too. Countries such as India, Pakistan, Japan, Australia, Turkey, and Indonesia all have issued some form of grievance toward TikTok’s business operations. Problems with the platform sometimes stem from inappropriate content. However, then main reason various countries file lawsuits or ban the app is data protection violations.

These actions 👮‍♀️ taken against the platform may result in the company experiencing financial losses ranging into billions of dollars just on government bans. Bur for now, despite the data collection issues, lawsuits, and government bans, TikTok continues to gain popularity worldwide. 

TikTok’s Future

This is not the end of TikTok’s plentiful international lawsuits, nor is it the beginning. The company is currently under investigation by the UK for child privacy violations since 2019. This resulted in an April 2020 lawsuit. The French government took similar action and conducted an investigation on the company in August 2020 for the same reasons.

The US may not have successfully banned TikTok, but that doesn’t mean the platform has escaped scrutiny just yet. The Biden administration has also conducted an investigation on whether the platform and other foreign-owned apps could be a potential risk.

As you can see, users around the world have cause for concern. There’s a real risk of companies collecting private and personal data without full user consent. This problem has raised government concern on an international level and should be taken seriously.

If you have experienced any form of breach or violation regarding your personal data, then it is crucial to consult an attorney. A social media attorney can assess your case and provide you with the best path forward 👟 as you protect your right to privacy.