TikTok breaching users’ rights “on a massive scale”, says European Consumer Group

TikTok has been accused of breaching users’ rights “on a massive scale” by the European Consumer Group.

It is the latest warning for the video sharing app, which has faced numerous complaints over its lax copyright policy and its inability to protect children from harmful content and hidden advertising.

The consumer group noted several issues in its complaint to the EU’s network of consumer protection authorities, with TikTok’s terms of service drawing particular criticism.

“They are unclear, ambiguous and favour TikTok to the detriment of its users,” the organisation said.

“Its copyright terms are equally unfair as they give TikTok an irrevocable right to use, distribute and reproduce the videos published by users, without remuneration.”

TikTok has told the BBC that it has requested a meeting with the group to discuss these issues.

Growing concern

Given TikTok’s largely youthful demographic and the extra protections necessary to safeguard children’s personal data, the app was always like to face regulatory pressure.

It’s a problem shared by most social networking platforms but, as a relative newcomer to the social media scene, TikTok is only just beginning to reach the watchful eye of regulators and privacy activists.

However, several noteworthy gaffes – including an incident earlier this month in which someone was able to create a profile claiming to be Westgate Academy in Lincoln and ask pupils to send clips of themselves in uniform – have drawn consternation.

Monique Goyens, director general of the European Consumer Group, has urged regulators to “take swift action” against the platform.

“In just a few years, TikTok has become one of the most popular social media apps with millions of users across Europe. But TikTok is letting its users down by breaching their rights on a massive scale,” she said.

“Children love TikTok but the company fails to keep them protected.”

A spokesperson for TikTok said that the platform had taken several steps to protect users, including its requirement that users must be 13 or older to join.

“Keeping our community safe, especially our younger users, and complying with the laws where we operate are responsibilities we take incredibly seriously,” they said.

“Every day we work hard to protect our community, which is why we have taken a range of major steps – including making all accounts belonging to users under 16 private by default.

“We’ve also developed an in-app summary of our privacy policy with vocabulary and a tone of voice that makes it easier for teens to understand our approach to privacy.”

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