Tiktok is being sued for billions of pounds over allegations the video-sharing app illegally harvested the private data of millions of European children.
The lawsuit, which is being backed by former children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield, alleges that every child that has used Tiktok since 25 May 2018 may have had personal information collected for the benefit of unknown third parties.
Longfield, who is acting as so-called litigation friend for an anonymous 12-year-old girl leading the class action, said affected children could receive thousands of pounds each if the claim is successful.
“Parents and children have a right to know that private information, including phone numbers, physical location, and videos of their children are being illegally collected,” she said.
Tiktok, which is owned by Chinese tech firm Bytedance, said: “We believe the claims lack merit and intend to vigorously defend the action.”
The claimants, who are being advised by law firm Scott & Scott, accuse Tiktok of breaching European and UK data protection laws by processing children’s data without adequate security measures, transparency, the consent of guardians or legitimate interest.
The suit, which is being heard in the High Court, is calling for the company to delete all children’s personal information and seeking billions of pounds in damages.
It is not the first time that Tiktok, which has roughly 100m users in Europe alone, has come under fire for its data practices.
In 2019 the app was fined a record $5.7m (£4.2m) by the US Federal Trade Commission after it was accused of illegally collecting information from children under 13.
Last year India banned Tiktok as part of a wider crackdown on Chinese-owned apps over security fears, while the UK data watchdog is currently investigating the app.