TikTok sued over child privacy concerns on behalf of millions of European children

ByteDance-owned TikTok could face billions of pounds in damages at the London Supreme Court for allegations of illegally collecting private data of millions of European children.

Anne Longfield, the former Children’s Commissioner for England and so-called “litigation friend”, or public face, of an anonymous 12-year-old girl leading the class action, filed a lawsuit at the supreme court on behalf of millions of children in the UK and the European Economic Area who have used TikTok since March 25, 2018.

She said on Wednesday that, if the claim is successful, affected children could be entitled thousands of pounds each in compensation. It is estimated by the claimants, advised by law firm Scott & Scott, that over 3.5 million children are affected in the United Kingdom alone.  

“Parents and children have a right to know that private information, including phone numbers, physical location, and videos of their children are being illegally collected,” Longfield said.

The suit was filed back in December but its details were only released on Wednesday. According to Reuters, the case has been put on hold pending the decision of the UK Supreme Court in a lawsuit against Google over alleged illegal tracking of iPhone users via third-party cookies in 2011 and 2012.

Also read: Instagram bans adults DM’in teens under 18 

The claimants allege that TikTok violates UK and European Union data protection laws by processing children’s data without adequate security measures, transparency, parental consent or legitimate interests.

TikTok said “We believe the claims lack merit and intend to vigorously defend the action.” 

“Privacy and safety are top priorities for TikTok,” the company said in the statement. “We have robust policies, processes and technologies in place to help protect all users, and our teenage users in particular.”

That case will be heard next week.

Written by Sophie Blake


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