TikTok could be facing some serious GDPR charges

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TikTok has been accused of breaching GDPR (opens in new tab) rules by the European Consumer Organization (BEUC). 

A complaint filed with the European Commission argues that the video-sharing social network (opens in new tab) misleads users regarding the type of personal data (opens in new tab) it collects.

The BEUC alleges that TikTok breaches multiple EU consumer rights and fails to protect children from inappropriate content and hidden advertising. As well as its consumer law complaint, the BEUC has notified the authorities of TikTok practices that it believes are in breach of data protection (opens in new tab) laws.

A long list of complaints

“We have brought our data protection findings to the attention of Data Protection Authorities in the context of their ongoing investigations into the company,” a BEUC release explains (opens in new tab).

“TikTok must also respect its users’ privacy and data protection rights. It should ensure that its policies respect all the obligations under EU data protection law. Data collection, profiling and targeted advertising for all users below 18 should be severely restricted.”

Specifically, the BEUC identifies four practices that it believes require further investigation. Firstly, it argues that several terms in TikTok’s user agreement are unclear and unfair. The fact that TikTok can modify the exchange rate between in-app coins and virtual gifts on the platform is also accused of being unfairly biased against the consumer.

Other practices are also criticized. For example, TikTok encourages users to take part in branded hashtag challenges but does not carry out due diligence to protect children from viewing suggestive content (opens in new tab). The BEUC’s fourth complaint concerns misleading users regarding what personal data is collected and why.

Although TikTok has acquired a huge user base in a relatively short space of time, it has also faced hurdles, including security flaws (opens in new tab) and political disagreements (opens in new tab). In support of BEUC’s complaints, consumer organizations in 15 countries have also asked their respective authorities to investigate TikTok's practices.

Via ITPro (opens in new tab)

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.