The management company of the popular video-sharing app TikTok has been sued by children’s mothers for “collecting and releasing information about minors under the age of 13 so that adults pretending to be children can contact their children.”
The company’s management company of the video sharing app TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, It is the three companies of the video sharing app Musical.ly management company which was acquired by ByteDance and merged into TikTok. In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on December 3, 2019, the plaintiff said, “The app requests the child’s name, email address, telephone number, self-introduction, profile picture, location information, We also made it possible for children to enter their age.” In addition, the privacy settings for this information are “disabled” by default, and as a rule, all information was publicly available, making it easy for other users to view. In the U.S., parental consent is mandatory to obtain personal information from children under the age of 13, but the fact that the app did not have adequate safeguards to obtain parental consent also spurred the problem.
These issues have been discussed in the past, and in February 2019 TikTok was fined more than 600 million yen. Popular video sharing app TikTok to fine more than 600 million yen for “collecting children’s information” – GIGAZINE
As a further issue in this lawsuit, “the app has effectively disabled all privacy features, causing serious problems such as allowing adults pretending to be children to send inappropriate messages to their children through the app, Some news media even referred to it as a “pedophile hunt ground,” plaintiff claims. Daily Mirror, a British daily newspaper, reported that “an app where teenagers share interesting videos has become a ‘hunting ground for pedophiles’.” In it, the All-British Child Abuse Prevention Association, an NGO organization aimed at preventing child abuse, said: “It has been reported that quite a few children have received adult contact via live streaming apps such as TikTok. The fact that child abusers are using apps for children’s colors is highlighted.” In response to the situation that children are facing the victims of crimes through TikTok, schools in the Uk have created educational materials to warn children of their use of TikTok.
According to the complaint, plaintiffs have received thousands of complaints from parents that children under the age of 13 are using the app without parental consent. Plaintiffs believe that “punitive damages” for such damages are the purpose of this lawsuit. On this issue, a TikTok spokesperson told Gizmodo, a technical site, “The resolution of the problem will be announced as soon as possible. TikTok doesn’t agree with most of the complaints, but we’ve been aware of these complaints for some time, and we’ve worked with stakeholders to resolve the issue,” he said in a statement, showing confidence in the early resolution of the problem.