12-year old British girl sues TikTok over use of her personal data
Bloomberg says that a 12-year old London girl is taking short-form video app TikTok to court claiming that the European Union's strict data protection rules were violated by the app. In a major win for the anonymous child, a judge in London granted her anonymity so that she could continue moving forward with the lawsuit. Anne Longfield, the Children's Commissioner for England, will be taking the case to court on behalf of the minor.
Longfield says that getting the court to provide her with anonymity was so important because otherwise she could face "direct online bullying by other children or users of the TikTok app" and "negative or hostile reactions from social media influencers" if her identity were made public. In other words, by bringing this action against TikTok, the girl could be punished by users of the app seeking revenge if her name were released.
In making his decision earlier this week, Judge Mark Warby said that the child "intends to go to a court asserting -- rightly or wrongly -- that her privacy rights and those of others like her have been infringed in ways that call for a remedy." The judge added that not giving the girl her anonymity could "have a chilling effect on the bringing of claims by children to vindicate their data-protection rights."
In Europe, TikTok's collection of children's private data is under heavy scrutiny by EU watchdogs. The Data-protection heads in June created a task force amid plans to coordinate an investigation into "TikTok's processing and practices." In a statement, TikTok said, "Privacy and safety are top priorities for TikTok and we have robust policies, processes and technologies in place to protect all users, and our younger users in particular."
TikTok has been installed over 2 billion times globally from the App Store and Google Play Store
Because TikTok's parent company is Chinese firm ByteDance, there are already questions in the U.S. over what happens to the personal data belonging to TikTok customers who sign up for the app. The current U.S. administration acts as though all Chinese companies steal data from American firms and consumers and send it to the Communist Chinese government in Beijing. This scenario has never been proven by the U.S.
As of the end of last quarter, the app has been installed from the App Store and the Google Play Store over two billion times with more than 800 million active users.