EU v. TikTok violates privacy regulations, must respond within 30 days

The European Union on Friday (May 28) demanded that TikTok, the international version of ByteMobile’s Jitterbug, respond within a month to a number of complaints from EU consumer groups that it violates EU consumer law and fails to protect children from disguised advertising and inappropriate content.

The European consumer protection group BEUC complained to the EU in February that the terms of TikTok’s user agreement violated EU regulations that protect consumer privacy. The EU said it agreed that some of the provisions of the TikTok user agreement were misleading and led to consumer confusion after an assessment, and therefore asked TikTok to respond within one month.

In a statement Friday, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said, “The EU prohibits disguised advertising, including video banner ads, to children and minors.” He also noted that the EU has started a formal dialogue with local consumer organizations in Sweden and Ireland to require TikTok to comply with EU consumer protection regulations.

In April, TikTok faced a Privacy Shield lawsuit in London on behalf of millions of British and European children, which sued TikTok for violating U.K. and EU data protection laws. The group backing the lawsuit issued a statement saying the lawsuit aims to stop TikTok from illegally processing information about millions of children and requires it to delete any personal information.

The lawsuit comes after several EU data regulators have stepped up scrutiny of the TikTok video app. Last year, EU data protection regulators promised to coordinate a potential investigation of the Chinese company and set up a working group to better understand TikTok’s data processing and related operations.

ByteTok has agreed to a class action settlement worth $92 million to resolve data privacy claims made by some TikTok users in the U.S., according to U.S. Illinois state court filings in February of this year. In addition, ByteTok was also fined $5.7 million by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2019 to close a case in which its subsidiary illegally collected information from minors.