Lawsuit: TikTok Collects Data on Young Users, Violating Child Privacy Laws

TikTok app fined in US for illegally gathering children's data (© GETTY/AFP/File Joe Scarnici)

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is facing accusations that it violated child privacy laws and improperly collected data on young users, according to a new lawsuit.

The complaint, filed this week in an Illinois federal court, alleges that the Chinese-owned ByteDance has collected data from users under 13 years of age without explicit parental consent. The lawsuit claims that ByteDance then sold the data to advertisers.

The accusations represent that latest legal woes for ByteDance, which has come under heightened scrutiny over its close ties to Beijing.

TikTok was hit earlier this week with a class action lawsuit alleging that the app transferred “vast quantities” of American user data to China and that TikTok “surreptitiously” took content from users without consent.

Another lawsuit filed last month in California alleges that TikTok secretly collected and transferred private user data to servers in China.

Concern over TikTok has become a bipartisan issue, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck  Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) recently asking the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, to investigate whether TikTok poses “national security risks.”

The new lawsuit in Illinois claims that ByteDance collected private user data through TikTok’s predecessor, an app called that the company acquired in 2017.

ByteDance shut down last year and moved its users to TikTok.

The court filing cites the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prohibits developers of child-focused apps from collecting identifiable information of children under 13 years of age without first obtaining verifiable consent from their parents.

TikTok said in a statement that it is trying to reach a resolution on the case.

“TikTok was made aware of the allegations in the complaint some time ago, and although we disagree with much of what is alleged in the complaint, we have been working with the parties involved to reach a resolution of the issues,” a TikTok spokesperson told the Verge.

“That resolution should be announced soon.”

TikTok is facing backlash for a recent separate incident in which a 17-year-old girl was suspended from the platform after she used the app to make comments critical of China’s systematic surveillance and detention of Uighur Muslims.

Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Have a tip? Contact me at


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.