TikTok has found itself in trouble with the European Consumer Organisation BEUC, as a result of multiple infractions against EU consumer laws.
TikTok has faced repeated criticism for breaches of privacy, especially in regard to the privacy of minor children. The company has also faced ongoing criticism, scrutiny and lawsuits over its privacy practices in general.
The latest troubles come from the EU, as TikTok is accused of violating several EU consumer laws, according to the BEUC, including a failure to properly protect children.
The BEUC’s investigation found that a number of TikTok’s ‘Terms of Service’ were unfair, ambiguous and favoring TikTok to users’ detriment. The same is true of the company’s copyright terms, which give TikTok “an irrevocable right to use, distribute and reproduce the videos published by users, without remuneration.”
The BEUC took issue with how TikTok administers the coins people can purchase to reward their favorite content creators, retaining too much control over exchange rates.
The company’s handling of user data is also misleading, with TikTok not properly informing users — especially children — of how and why their data is being collected and how it’s being used.
Most egregiously, the company is failing to protect children and minors from potentially harmful content and and hidden advertising.
The BEUC wants “authorities to launch a comprehensive investigation into TikTok’s policies and practices and to ensure that TikTok respects EU consumer rights. The company should properly inform consumers about its business model and data processing activities and stop imposing unfair terms and practices on its users. TikTok should also stop keeping its users in the dark about the financial consequences of buying virtual gifts for their favourite idols and improve the fairness of this service. In particular children and teenagers, who form an important part of Tik Tok’s audience must be adequately protected regarding their exposure to marketing, hidden advertising and inappropriate content.”
Given the EU’s strong privacy and consumer legislation, TikTok’s run of fast and loose privacy practices is likely coming to an end.