On 8 March 2022, High Court Judge Matthew Nicklin allowed a data protection claim against TikTok to continue stating that the case has a serious issue to be tried.

This follows the case of Lloyd v Google in November 2021 where the Supreme Court blocked a class-action claim for compensation against Google for tracking Apple iPhone users’ internet activity for several months without permission. This landmark ruling prevented similar group actions against big tech firms that handle the data of millions of people.

The claim in the TikTok case was brought by Anne Longfield, the former UK Children’s Commissioner, on behalf of a class of child users on TikTok. Longfield claimed that the private information of children had been collected illegally and that TikTok’s collection practices and structures were deliberately opaque obscuring the final destination of the information gathered.

This claim is one of the few remaining mass data claims after the Lloyd v Google decision and is brought under the ‘representative action’ mechanism, which means that claimants must actively opt-out of the claim if they do not wish to continue. This means that all children who have signed into TikTok since 25 May 2018 are automatically part of the claim. Longfield claimed that each child should receive at least £1,000.

Nicklin J considered the issues and whether the case was sufficiently different from LLoyd v Google. Nicklin J expressed his doubts over if the case was sufficiently different but has allowed the claim to continue and allowed the claim to be served on several Defendants, TikTok’s Chinese, US and Cayman Island entities. The 5th Defendant was a seperate Chinese entity but the application for an extension of time and an alternative means of service was not granted.

Tiktok’s lawyers have said that they plan to seek summary judgment against the claimant or to get the claim struck out. If TikTok’s lawyers are unsuccessful in doing so, it will be interesting to read the Defence and see how the courts deals with the matter going forward.