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Immediately no: TikTok’s new personalised ads will jeopardise rights in Europe

TikTok’s plan to force personalised ads on all users over 18 years old will risk the privacy of millions of people in EEA, UK, and Switzerland who use the popular social media platform. Access Now is calling on TikTok to immediately halt these invasive changes, and is urging the European Data Protection Board and its members to use its powers to intervene.

“TikTok wants to strip away the rights of people who use the platform to bump its ad revenue. To that, Access Now says ‘immediately no,’” said Estelle Massé, Europe Legislative Manager and Global Data Protection Lead at Access Now. “The way social media platforms like TikTok implement consent mechanisms is far from perfect — or legal — as it is often bundled into lengthy terms of services. Yet, TikTok is taking a step further in limiting our rights and effectively suggesting that we should not have a say in deciding how our information is used. ”

Set to take effect on 13 July, 2022, TikTok’s announced changes to personalised advertising in the EEA, UK, and Switzerland would mean the people over 18 years old who use the platform will no longer be asked for consent — and therefore cannot pro-actively decide — to have their data used for targeted ads. 

Social media companies have the obligation to protect the personal data of millions, and to respect the privacy choices made by those who use their platforms. They cannot simply flip a switch and turn against the very people who sustain their platforms and keep their business thriving,” said Isedua Oribhabor, Business & Human Rights Lead at Access Now. “TikTok has taken important steps in recent years towards greater safeguarding of human rights, it’s our ‘POV’ that this latest announcement to profit from people’s personal data will render those steps fruitless.”

Access Now reached out to the European Data Protection Board as well as TikTok, as the proposed changes are not only relevant for this platform but for the whole industry utilising personalised ads. At a time where EU legislators are taking additional steps to regulate these activities, regulators must act to prevent changes that seek to limit people’s privacy and data protection rights.

Read the letters to TikTok and the letter to the European Data Protection Board.