The European Consumers’ Organization (BEUC) has today registered a complaint with the European Commission and with the EU network of consumer organizations against Tiktok.
TikTok has had several privacy-related controversies since its launch in 2018. The Chinese social network has made several changes in recent months to ensure the privacy of minors, but consumer associations believe they have not been enough. As a result, they will now have to face the authorities.
BEUC claims that TikTok has violated consumer rights in the EU, and has failed to properly protect children from certain content on the platform, such as hidden ads and inappropriate content. Specifically, their criticisms are summarized in four points.
EU concerns against TikTok
The first point is that there are several clauses in Tiktok’s terms and conditions that are unclear, ambiguous, or favor TikTok to the detriment of its users. The copyrights are not fair, as users give the platform irrevocable use of all the content they upload, being able to use, distribute or reproduce it without users receiving remuneration for it.
The second point has to do with TikTok’s feature that allows to buy coins and recharge balance in TikTok to make virtual gifts to famous profiles. In those purchases, TikTok can change the price and exchange rate between coins and gifts, profiting in the process in those transactions without users being able to do anything about it.
The third point is that TikTok fails to protect children and teens from hidden advertisements and potentially harmful content on the platform. For example, users are prompted to participate in hashtags that are sponsored, indirectly promoting a brand. More often than not, it is the influencers who initiate these hashtags, for which they have previously received money, as it is possible to earn money on TikTok.
Finally, the platform’s user data processing policy is vague, as users are not informed, especially considering that many of them are children and teenagers who are not familiar with the terminology. As a result, users do not know clearly what personal data is being collected, for what purposes, and for what legal reasons.
Consumer organizations are calling for a thorough investigation
For all these reasons, BEUC believes that TikTok would be in violation of the GDPR, and calls on the EU to investigate TikTok’s policies and practices and to ensure that the app complies with European consumers’ rights by correctly reporting on its business model and data processing. They also call for the elimination of abusive clauses, and more information about its activity.