TikTok is facing a multi-billion dollar claim in the London lawsuit over children’s privacy

TikTok, the wildly popular video app, and Chinese parent company ByteDance could face a billions of pounds (dollars) damages in London’s Supreme Court for allegations that they illegally collected the private data of millions of European children.

Anne Longfield, the former children’s commissioner for England and the so-called “ litigation friend, ” aka the face, of an evil 12-year-old girl who led the class action, said on Wednesday that affected children could receive thousands of pounds each if the claim is successful.

Longfield claimed that every child who has used TikTok since May 25, 2018 may have collected illegal personal information by ByteDance through TikTok on behalf of unknown third parties.

“Parents and children have a right to know that private information, including their children’s phone numbers, physical location and videos, is being collected illegally,” she said, as a website with detailed information about the case goes live.

A TikTok representative said that privacy and security were the company’s top priorities and that it had robust policies, processes and technologies to help protect all users, especially teenagers.

“We believe the claims are unfounded and intend to vigorously defend the action,” said the representative.

TikTok is one of the world’s most popular apps – especially among young people – and has around 100 million users in Europe alone. The COVID-19 pandemic, in which many children were locked up at home, contributed to its success.

But the plaintiffs, advised by law firm Scott & Scott, allege that TikTok violated UK and European Union data protection laws by processing young people’s data without adequate security measures, transparency, guardians’ consent or legitimate interest.

The claim demands that the company erase all personal information from children – and says the damage could be “billions of pounds” if successful.

Such US-style data privacy ‘opt-out’ classifications, which automatically tie a particular group in a lawsuit unless individuals opt out, are rare in Britain.

The case has been suspended pending a UK Supreme Court ruling in a lawsuit against internet giant Google for allegedly unlawful tracking of iPhone users in 2011 and 2012 using third-party cookies.

That case will be handled next week.