LISBON (Reuters) – A Portugal-based European consumer protection group has sued short-video app TikTok for allegedly allowing children aged under 13 to sign up for an account without parental consent and failing to implement measures to protect them.
The lawsuit came a day after Britain’s data watchdog said it had fined TikTok 12.7 million pounds ($15.81 million) for breaching data protection law, including by using the personal data of children without parental consent.
Amid growing security concerns that China could use the Beijing-based company, owned by ByteDance Ltd, to harvest users’ data, Australia, the United States, France and other Western countries have also lately banned TikTok from government devices.
“TikTok profits from children under the age of 13, taking advantage of their particular vulnerability,” the non-profit group Ius Omnibus said in a statement, asking a Lisbon court to “put an end to the unlawful conduct” and order the financial compensation of those affected.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but told Portuguese newspaper Publico in a statement that protecting its users and their data was of “utmost importance”.
Ius Omnibus claims TikTok ends up collecting and processing children’s personal data in breach of Portugal’s constitution, the European Union’s general data protection regulation and the unfair commercial practices law.
Despite TikTok’s age limit, it “does not implement mechanisms to prevent registration” by users aged below 13, the group said.
In a separate lawsuit, it claims users older than 13 are also victims of “misleading business practices” and that certain personal data is used without their full consent.
Ius Omnibus said the situation exposes the children to “dangers to their moral, psychological and physical integrity and to their safety and health, as well as to the intimacy of their private and family life”.
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(Reporting by Catarina Demony; editing by Andrei Khalip and Richard Chang)