Dutch authorities to investigate TikTok’s use of children’s data
TikTok is one of the most popular downloaded App on Android smartphones and iPhones. It is estimated to have over a quarter-billion active users worldwide. Among these 750 million, plus users, children form the biggest set with millions watching TikTok videos.
TikTok has been continuing unhinged without a proper policy for handling the data of these young TikTok fans. Not any more. The Dutch privacy watchdog said on Friday it would investigate how Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, which has become hugely popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, handles the data of millions of young users.
The app doesn’t have any identification policies for children posing as adults and logging on to platform. It also has a very weak moderating system that allows videos that are R rated or can promote racism or communal disturbance. Many researchers have concluded that ByteDance, the owner of TikTok has a panache for promoting fake news and viral news through its Apps like TikTok, Toutiao, Vigo and Top Buzz.
“For many users, this is an important way of staying in touch with friends and spending time together, particularly during the current coronavirus crisis,” the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) said in a statement. “The rise of TikTok has led to growing concerns about privacy.”
Once any country in Europe implements penalties on TikTok, pretty soon other countries of the world follow suit. TikTok is already under scrutiny by United States authorities for data security issues. After the U.S. probe began, TikTok said that it will enforce parental controls on the App to prevent children from viewing the TikTok videos. In April, TikTok blocked the live chat and video streaming function for users under 16.
TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance and has a massive following in the West. It is estimated to have nearly 250 million users in the U.S. and Europe.
TikTok in a statement said that it was cooperating with the Dutch authorities. “TikTok’s top priority is protecting our users’ privacy and safety, especially our younger users,” spokeswoman Gudrun Herrmann said in a statement sent to Reuters.
Dutch action against the popular short video hosting service could have a cascading effect on TikTok.