TikTok Hit by European Consumer Group Complaint Regarding Child Safety

TikTok on iPhone

TikTok is facing complaints from European consumer group BEUC. It specifically criticized the social video app’s privacy and  child safety policies, which it said are “unclear, ambiguous and favor TikTok to the detriment of its users.”

BEUC Blasts TikTok Over Child Protection

BEUC also said that “TikTok fails to protect children and teenagers from hidden advertising and potentially harmful content on its platform,” and claimed its personal data processing practices are misleading. The rapidly growing app’s “copyright terms are equally unfair,” it said, as they “give TikTok an irrevocable right to use, distribute and reproduce the videos published by users, without remuneration.” The group’s, Director General, Monqiue Goyens said:

In just a few years, TikTok has become one of the most popular social media apps with millions of users across Europe. But TikTok is letting its users down by breaching their rights on a massive scale. We have discovered a whole series of consumer rights infringements and therefore filed a complaint against TikTok. Children love TikTok but the company fails to keep them protected. We do not want our youngest ones to be exposed to pervasive hidden advertising and unknowingly turned into billboards when they are just trying to have fun.

Video App Says Privacy Policies Protect Younger Users

TikTok, for its part, insists it sticks to all local regulations and laws regarding advertising. In Europe, this means a user must have provided a birthdate showing they are at least 13 years old or older, be over the age of digital consent in their own country, and consent to personalized ads via a popup or within the app’s settings. TikTok not only has a publicly available privacy policy but also provides a separate summary specifically for those aged 13-18 in the Privacy Policy tab of its app. Responding, a TikTok spokesperson told The Mac Observer:

Keeping our community safe, especially our younger users, and complying with the laws where we operate are responsibilities we take incredibly seriously. Every day we work hard to protect our community which is why we have taken a range of major steps, including making all accounts belonging to users under 16 private by default. We’ve also developed an in-app summary of our Privacy Policy with vocabulary and a tone of voice that makes it easier for teens to understand our approach to privacy. We’re always open to hearing how we can improve, and we have contacted BEUC as we would welcome a meeting to listen to their concerns.

Tragic Case Leads to Increased Scrutiny of TikTok

TikTok, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, sits top of the iOS App Store charts in many countries. It was threatened with a block in Italy following the death of a 10-year-old girl in Italy after she allegedly took part in a “blackout challenge” on the app. Following the tragic case, Italy’s data protection agency told TikTok to reverify the age of all users and delete accounts of those aged under-13.

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