The TikTok application targeted by a complaint from consumer associations

05/03/2021

The video-sharing application with 800 million active users has become the target of consumer associations. At stake are the rights and safety of its users, especially the youngest, often under 13 years of age.

The UFC-Que Choisir, and 17 other European associations have filed a complaint against the social network. At the same time, the European Bureau of Consumers’ Unions (EBCU) asked the European Commission and the network of consumer protection authorities to open an investigation into TikTok’s practices.

In its press release, the UFC-Que Choisir denounces head-on the practices of the giant: unclear terms of use, clauses contrary to the law that notably give TikTok the possibility to use, modify or reproduce the videos of users without their consent, inappropriate content, of a sexual nature, or hidden marketing.

For example, the terms of use are not translated in all languages. Therefore, some people may not be able to read or understand them, even though the application has a branch in those countries.

Also, the use of an optional virtual currency to reward network stars through the purchase of gifts by users is denounced as it creates and promotes a loss of reference in relation to the real value of the money paid out.

Finally, the processing of users data would be contrary to the obligations set by the General Data Protection Regulation n°2016/679.

The association thus requests the application to clarify its policy and business model, to be more transparent about virtual currency and to take measures to protect minors, particularly with regard to “their personal data and their exposure to marketing, hidden advertising and inappropriate content“. This could, for example, involve changing the algorithm or tightening parental controls.

Theoretically prohibited at least 13 years of age, the application is however particularly popular with them, who only have to certify at registration that they are over 13 years of age. As BEUC points out, many people lie about their date of birth in order to be over the age of majority and to be able to access all the application’s functionalities, particularly private messaging.

By the IP/IT team of UGGC Law Firm

UGGC - Tik tok

Sources : https://www.quechoisir.org/action-ufc-que-choisir-tiktok-depot-d-une-plainte-europeenne-contre-l-application-n88258/

https://www.beuc.eu/publications/beuc-x-2021-012_tiktok_without_filters.pdf

https://www.lefigaro.fr/secteur/high-tech/les-consommateurs-europeens-s-attaquent-au-reseau-social-tiktok-20210216

https://www.liberation.fr/international/europe/les-associations-de-consommateurs-europeennes-sattaquent-a-tiktok-20210218_7AKL2RFO3NFBFGSAANML6EXLPQ/

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