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TikTok to face legal action in England from a 12 year old girl

The 12-year-old girl is aiming to take legal action against the popular short video-sharing app TikTok, claiming the company uses children's data unlawfully.

Akarsh Verma | December 31, 2020 | Updated 18:57 IST

Highlights

  • TikTok is being taken to court in the UK over their alleged handling of children’s data.
  • TikTok says it has "robust policies" in place to protect children and does not allow under-13s to join the platform.
  • In 2019, TikTok was fined $5.7 million in the United States for its handling of children's data.

The pandemic ridden 2020 has been a tough year for most companies, however it has been particularly difficult for the Chinese company ByteDance which owns the popular short video sharing app TikTok. From being banned in India to having a narrow escape in the USA, 2020 has certainly been the toughest year for TikTok. However, it does not look like their troubles will be ending anytime soon. A London judge has granted a 12-year old girl anonymity so she can drag TikTok to court over allegations that the company violated European Union's strict data protection laws.

The legal action is being supported by children's commissioner for England Anne Longfield. She believes TikTok has violated UK and EU data protection laws. Ms Longfield hopes the case will lead to greater protective measures for under-16s who use TikTok in England and possibly beyond.

The London 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," Judge Mark Warby said in a decision Wednesday. Not granting her anonymity could "have a chilling effect on the bringing of claims by children to vindicate their data-protection rights."

TikTok has come under increased scrutiny by several EU data watchdogs over children's data. The EU's data-protection chiefs in June pledged to coordinate potential investigations into the Chinese company, establishing a task-force to get a better understanding of "TikTok's processing and practices."

This is not the first time TikTok is facing heat over children's data. In 2019, TikTok was fined $5.7 million by the US Federal Trade Commission for its handling of children's data.

TikTok said it had "robust policies" in place to protect children and did not allow under-13s to join. 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. As this application was made without notice, we first became aware of the application and the High Court's judgment [on Wednesday] and are currently considering its implications."

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