Tik Tok is repeatedly criticized because the platform does not adequately protect its underage users. Now the European consumer association BEUC has filed a complaint with the EU Commission.

Tik Tok, the short video app from the Chinese group Bytedance, is particularly popular with children and young people. But the platform does not adequately protect its youngest users, according to the European consumer association BEUC.

The association has therefore now filed a complaint against the Chinese short video app with the EU Commission and the network of national consumer protection authorities.

The allegations against Tik Tok in detail

“Children love Tik Tok, but the company is failing to protect them,” BEUC Director General Monique Goyens said, explaining the decision to file the complaint. But the app is failing its “users by violating their rights en masse.”

The youngest users are not sufficiently protected from hidden advertising and potentially harmful content on the platform, the consumer protection association criticizes.

The plaintiffs also criticize the data collection frenzy, which takes place in secret and thus remains invisible to children and young people. The Bytedance subsidiary collects massive amounts of personal data and thus violates the GDPR.

The French consumer organization UFC-Que Choisir also criticizes the app’s handling of user data. For children and young people, it is not clear enough what rights they grant the creators.

Age restriction remains a vexed issue

Theoretically, children are only allowed to use the app from the age of 13. For anyone who is not of age, a parent or guardian must consent to the use. But neither the actual age nor the consent is checked by the operators of the service.

But the chances are good that the consumer advocates will achieve something. It was only at the beginning of February 2020 that the app had to make improvements to the age limit at the insistence of the Italian authorities.

After the death of a ten-year-old girl, the video platform initially blocked all accounts and only released them again after the date of birth had been entered. In addition, the app’s creators have announced that they will intensify the analysis of user behavior in order to detect age misrepresentations.