New York (AFP)

Several American groups defending the rights of minors and consumers announced Thursday to sue the social network TikTok for non-compliance with a decision on the protection of the privacy of children under 13.

In February 2019, the US trade regulator, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), demanded that the video sharing platform popular with young adolescents be fined $ 5.7 million for illegally collecting personal data minors.

"More than a year later, with a record number of quarantined children and families flocking to the site, TikTok has failed to erase personal information about minors previously collected and continues to collect this personal information without warning or asking the parents' agreement, "said the 20 organizations suing TikTok in a statement.

They ask the FTC to identify those responsible and to punish them for violating the terms of the 2019 decision.

"Even after being caught in the bag by the FTC, TikTok continues to flout the law," accused Josh Golin, executive director of one of the groups that filed the complaint.

"We call on the Commission to act quickly and to impose new sanctions against TikTok, this time with a fine and reparations commensurate with the gravity of the repeated violations of Tiktok," added Golin.

According to the complaint, TikTok only removed "personal information from users who said they were under the age of 13 at the time of the judgment or when the personal information was collected", which allowed it to keep certain data.

According to Michael Rosenbloom of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University, which represents the plaintiffs, "many accounts of children are still on Tiktok."

"Several of these accounts have tens of thousands, even millions of subscribers, and were active before the judgment," said Rosenbloom.

TikTok, owned by the Chinese group Bytedance, said it had put in place specific rules for the accounts of the youngest.

"We take privacy seriously and are committed to ensuring that TikTok remains a secure and entertaining network for our users," said a spokesperson for the platform.

According to Sensor Tower, a company that measures the popularity of applications, TikTok exceeded 2 billion downloads worldwide in April, attracting many new subscribers with the pandemic.

EMarketer has estimated that the platform had more than 52 million users in the United States in March.

© 2020 AFP