TikTok under fire over potential GDPR violations

The BEUC is urging the European Commission to urgently investigate the app's "unclear" data collection practices

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) has filed a complaint against TikTok, alleging the video-sharing platform’s practices could be in breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

According to the complaint, filed with the European Commission, TikTok misleads its users by failing to clearly inform them about what kind of personal data it collects, what the collected data will be used for, and the legal reasoning behind its collection.

The BEUC has emphasised that this practice is especially harmful for TikTok’s underage users, who are also left unprotected from hidden advertising as well as potentially harmful content on the platform.

The consumer organisation also alleges that “several” terms in TikTok’s ‘Terms of Service’ are “unclear, ambiguous and favour TikTok to the detriment of its users”. The platform’s copyright terms weren’t found to be any better, allegedly providing TikTok with “an irrevocable right to use, distribute and reproduce the videos published by users, without remuneration”.

It also accused the platform of misleading its users with its ‘Virtual Item Policy’, which lets fans of TikTok celebrities purchase coins which can be exchanged for virtual gifts as a way of showing their gratitude to their favourite content creators.

According to the BEUC, TikTok claims “an absolute right to modify the exchange rate between the coins and the gifts, potentially skewing the financial transaction in its own favour”.

The organisation’s director general Monique Goyens said that “TikTok is letting its users down by breaching their rights on a massive scale”. 

“We have discovered a whole series of consumer rights infringements and therefore filed a complaint against TikTok,” she said, adding that, although “children love TikTok”, the platform “fails to keep them protected”. 

“We do not want our youngest ones to be exposed to pervasive hidden advertising and unknowingly turned into billboards when they are just trying to have fun. Together with our members - consumer groups from across Europe - we urge authorities to take swift action. They must act now to make sure TikTok is a place where consumers, especially children, can enjoy themselves without being deprived of their rights,” said Goyens.

The BEUC announced that, in addition to its complaint, consumer organisations in 15 countries, including Sweden, Germany, and France, have alerted their authorities and urged them to investigate TikTok’s conduct.

Featured Resources

Choosing a collaboration platform

Eight questions every IT leader should ask

Download now

Performance benchmark: PostgreSQL/ MongoDB

Helping developers choose a database

Download now

Customer service vs. customer experience

Three-step guide to modern customer experience

Download now

Taking a proactive approach to cyber security

A complete guide to penetration testing

Download now

Recommended

1Password targets enterprise customers with Secrets Automation
IT infrastructure

1Password targets enterprise customers with Secrets Automation

14 Apr 2021
The definitive guide to IT security
Whitepaper

The definitive guide to IT security

9 Apr 2021
YouTube growth spikes as most other social media sites stagnate
social media

YouTube growth spikes as most other social media sites stagnate

8 Apr 2021
Supreme Court justice targets social media
Policy & legislation

Supreme Court justice targets social media

6 Apr 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

8 Apr 2021
UK exploring plans to launch its own digital currency
digital currency

UK exploring plans to launch its own digital currency

19 Apr 2021