Rights activists on Tuesday accused social media giant TickTock of violating EU law by co-opting users to share their data for targeted advertising.
TikTok said it would change its policy next week to allow data collection from people over the age of 18 in Europe, whether they agreed or not, claiming the move was approved under Europe’s Data Protection Act (GDPR).
But the digital rights group Access Now has sought legal clarification from the company, calling it a “clear abuse” of several European laws, including GDPR.
“TikTok wants to take away the rights of people who use the platform to increase its advertising revenue,” said Estelle Masse of Access Now.
Massey said other social media platforms also had problems with their consent process, but TikTok “effectively suggested that we should not make any statements in deciding how our information will be used”.
Social media firms collect a lot of data on people’s online habits and use it to sell highly targeted ads.
But some social media platforms have struggled to do so, forcing GDPR companies to give detailed justifications for data collection.
TikTok says its policy change is based on a GDPR policy called “legitimate interest”, which allows companies to process data without a specific justification.
However, regulators have already begun to limit the use of legitimate interest.
They ruled in February that websites relying on the policy of opt-in for targeted advertising to users were operating illegally.
AFP has called for a response to the criticism.
TikTok, whose parent company is Bitdance Chinese, is under pressure from U.S. lawmakers to use the data when the report suggests that it has allowed its employees in China to access data from U.S.-based users.
The social media agency confirmed the reports in a letter to the U.S. Congress last week but said it would never allow Communist Party officials to access U.S. users’ data.