The Amsterdam-based Market Information Research Foundation (SOMI) sued TikTok on behalf of 64,000 Dutch parents, seeking 1.4 billion euros (approximately $1.7 billion) for allegedly collecting data from millions of children.
According to Dutch media, SOMI filed the lawsuit against the Chinese social media app in an Amsterdam court on June 2 for violating the European Union’s data protection law. The organisation claims that TikTok collects children’s data without their permission, that some videos on the platform are harmful to children, and that the company fails to ensure children’s safety and privacy.
Furthermore, SOMI stated that TikTok collects far more data than it requires for marketing.
SOMI co-founder Cor Wijtvliet told Dutch media RTL Nieuws about the decision to sue, “A court decision can directly restrict the practises of TikTok and other social media platforms.” In the last year, we have sent letters of complaint to TikTok and several European supervisory authorities, but we have received no substantive results. That is why we have decided not to wait for the authorities’ investigations and instead to take legal action ourselves.”
In response to Dutch media, a TikTok spokesperson told RTL Nieuws that the privacy and safety of its users are of “utmost importance.” TikTok can only be used by children who are at least 13 years old, according to the company’s policy, and minors require parental consent. However, the policy has not been implemented.
TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, is known as Douyin in China. The video-sharing app is extremely popular among young people around the world.
Earlier this year, the company was named in an Italian lawsuit after a 10-year-old girl died while participating in a TikTok video challenge. The app has also been sued for billions of dollars in the United Kingdom for using the data of millions of children.
Meanwhile, TikTok’s privacy policies in the United States have been updated. On June 2, the company informed users that the app may collect additional biometric information, such as “faceprints and voiceprints.” When American media outlet The Verge contacted TikTok for comment, TikTok declined to explain what these terms mean or why it requires access to the information.
Until now, only a few states in the United States, including Illinois, Washington, California, Texas, Arkansas, and New York, have enacted biometric privacy legislation. If TikTok only requires consent “where required by law,” this could imply that the Chinese company can collect data from users without informing them.
In 2017, Beijing passed the National Intelligence Law, which requires Chinese citizens and businesses to gather intelligence for the communist regime.
Due to concerns that the Chinese app poses a threat to national security, the U.S. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a measure in May to prohibit TikTok from being used on government devices.