Written by: [email protected] (Isobel Asher Hamilton)
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- A 12-year-old girl from England is planning to bring legal action against TikTok over the way it handles children’s data.
- The girl, who has not yet brought a suit, is being supported in the action by England’s children’s commissioner.
- The girl was granted anonymity Wednesday by a judge who said she could face bullying from peers or hostility from influencers if her identity were revealed.
- “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,” a TikTok representative told Business Insider.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
TikTok is facing the prospect of legal action from a 12-year-old English girl over whether the way it handles children’s data violates European Union and UK privacy laws.
The girl, who on Wednesday won the right to remain anonymous should she bring a case against the shortform-video company, is being supported by England’s children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield.
Per the BBC, Longfield told the High Court in London she hoped a case would result in TikTok being ordered to delete the plaintiff’s data, thereby setting a precedent. Longfield, who is bringing the claim on behalf of the child, is due to leave her post as children’s commissioner in May.
Justice Mark Warby granted anonymity to the plaintiff on the grounds that if her identity were revealed she might be cyberbullied by peers or even harassed by social-media influencers “who might feel their status or earnings were under threat,” according to a High Court ruling published late last month.
In his description of the planned suit, Warby said it “involves serious criticisms of what may be key aspects of the platform’s mode of operation.”
“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,” a TikTok representative told Business Insider. “As this application was made without notice, we first became aware of the application and the High Court’s judgment when it was filed and are currently considering its implications.”
Technically under-13s are not supposed to be able to hold TikTok accounts, per the app’s terms and conditions. This isn’t the first time the app has come under scrutiny over the way it protects children on its platform.
In February 2019, TikTok agreed to pay a $5.7 million fine to settle allegations from the US Federal Trade Commission that the Musical.ly app, as TikTok was previously known, illegally collected the personal data of under-13s. In May of last year, a group of 20 advocacy groups accused TikTok of violating its 2019 settlement with the FTC, saying it still contained data relating to account holders under the age of 13.