TikTok Sued For Collecting And Exposing Children's Personal Data

Dhir Acharya - Dec 04, 2019


TikTok Sued For Collecting And Exposing Children's Personal Data

The first problem of TikTok was its failure in generating adequate safeguards for preventing underage children from using the app, the suit says.

TikTok, formerly known as Musical.ly, is being sued for allegedly collecting and exposing personally identifiable information of children under the age of 13, which violates child privacy protection laws.

In 2017, Bytedance acquired the platform with a deal worth roughly $1 billion. Later, the company announced that the platform would be rebranded as TikTok. All of these three names are defendants in the class-action lawsuit which was filed on Tuesday in the US.

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According to the complaint, the first problem of the app was its failure in generating adequate safeguards for preventing underage children from using the app. In the account creating process, TikTok required personally-identifying info such as first name, last name, username, phone number, email address, a photo, as well as biography where the user had to provide their age. In addition, the lawsuit accuses that from December 2015 to October 2016, the platform also harvested users’ location data, a feature the suite says allowed defendants as well as other users to identify the location of a user.

On TikTok, formerly Musical.ly, users can not only communicate with others through direct messages and on their videos, but the accounts were public by default, meaning all users’ identifying info was public. Worse, even if users set those credentials to private, they remain public and other users could search them, including bios, profile photos, and usernames.

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Moreover, the lawsuit claims that till October 2016, the platform had a feature allowing users to other local users through the “my city” tab that showed users located within an 80km radius. Users can connect to and interact with them by following or sending them direct messages. The suit accuses the app of creating a potentially dangerous, predatory environment for underage users.

The complaint says:

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Musical.ly is also accused of receiving thousands of notices parents sent about their children using the app without permission.

A TikTok spokesperson said that the company will soon have a resolution.

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