A 12-year-old woman is wanting to take legal action against video-sharing app TikTok, claiming the company uses kids’s data unlawfully.
A court has actually ruled the girl can stay anonymous if the case proceeds.
The action is being supported by Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England. She thinks TikTok has broken UK and EU information defense laws.
TikTok stated it had “robust policies” in place to secure kids and did not enable under-13s to sign up with.
Ms Longfield hopes the case will cause greater protective measures for under-16s who utilize TikTok in England and possibly beyond.
She thinks the app gathers and processes children’s data to power its video-recommendation algorithm, to record audiences’ attention and create marketing revenue.
The commissioner told the High Court in London – via a video link – that she hoped it to would ultimately release an order requiring the firm to erase the child’s information, setting a precedent.
However the focus of the initial hearing was to decide whether the 12-year-old girl could make a claim anonymously.
Mr Justice Warby judged that the lady risked being cyber-bullied by other children and TikTok users if her identity was revealed.
He said she could face “hostile responses from social media influencers who might feel their status or revenues were under danger”.
Ms Longfield is waiting for the conclusion of a data security case against Google before deciding whether to sue TikTok.
In 2019, TikTok was fined $5.7 m (₤ 4.2 m) by the US Federal Trade Commission for its handling of children’s information.
South Korea issued a fine for similar reasons in 2020.
In a statement, TikTok said: “Privacy and security are leading concerns for TikTok and we have robust policies, procedures and innovations in place to secure all users, and our younger users in specific. As this application was made without notification, we initially became conscious of the application and the High Court’s judgment [on Wednesday] and are currently considering its implications.”
The app’s terms and conditions state the service is not offered to under-13s and all users are asked their age when signing up.
It actively evaluates and gets rid of accounts that appear to be utilized by under-13s.