SOMI Newsletter - February 22nd, 2023

This is the newsletter for February 2023 from the Foundation for Market Information Research to its relations, including the participants in its actions, its sympathizers, and app users. 

SOMI's statement on the position of Exclusive Representative 

In the second phase of the collective claim against TikTok, one of the three foundations that instituted claims will be selected as an Exclusive Representative. In its decision of November 9th, 2022, the court of Amsterdam gave SOMI, Stichting Take Back Your Privacy and, Stichting Massaschade & Consument the opportunity to submit their arguments regarding the appointment of such class representative.

The court has also requested the foundations to disclose the financing agreement for the claim funding. The agreement does not have to be provided to other party, but that only the court will have access to it. However, TikTok has objected this decision and requested to inspect the financing agreements of all three foundations. SOMI is willing to disclose its term of financing, however, Take Back Your Privacy and Massaschade & Consument are unwilling to do so. The court will now decide at the end of the oral hearing whether TikTok should have access to these documents. 

In its summons, SOMI explained about its financing that initially, it received general loans from its directors, covering the costs of all its activities. Subsequently, its board of directors decided to convert these loans into a general donation, in support of the overall goals of the foundation. To date, SOMI has been engaged 2,5 years in this fight against the legal transgressions by TikTok. The donations by its boards will now ensure that we can represent the interests of the victims completely independently from any commercial outside interests. 

Withholding percentage from damage compensation 

Take Back Your Privacy has agreed with its claim financier that it will receive 22% to 25% of the compensation, which means that from the total amount of €2 billion claimed in court, up to €500.000.000 may go directly to its financier. Massaschade & Consument has also agreed to receive: 

  • - 25% of the compensation up to €100, 
  • - 20% from €100,01 to €200, 
  • - 17,5% from €200,01 to €300, 
  • - 15% from €300,01 to €400, and 
  • - 12,5% on compensation above €400,01. 
In this case, this financier may receive up to €750.000.000. 

In comparison, SOMI requests the court to deduct only 2% of the total compensation to be received by the class members for the purpose of its (future) representation of collective interests. This brings the deducted compensation to about €28.000.000. SOMI is not obliged to pass on this amount to any third party. In case SOMI would receive such compensation, it will completely be used for the benefit of the consumers it represents and within the statutory objectives of the foundation. 

The important question is whether it is appropriate for non-profit foundations to deduct fees to high profile venture capitalists of the damage compensation that should go to the victims represented in these collective cases instead. This is especially the case where such requested payments – of €500 million to €750 million – would in no way relate to the work performed or any costs that may be incurred in such collective action. Such fees would only reflect windfall profits in the absence of proper competition or of proper representation of class interests. SOMI is committed to protecting the fundamental rights of Dutch (and European) citizens who use online services. Therefore, our main goal is not to pay the return of investment to commercial risk funds, but to seek justice for those who have suffered damages.



Next step in TikTok mass claim procedure

TikTok has to respond with a statement of defense on the admissibility of the claims foundations no later than February 1st, 2023. However, TikTok has requested a postponement, in which the court has granted a 3-week extension until February 22nd. After which an oral hearing is expected to be scheduled.

Click here for more information on TikTok claim


Dutch Data Protection Authority - Investigation into TikTok

Only on January 27th, 2023, we have received a message from the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) regarding the progress from the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) on SOMI's complaint against TikTok, submitted in April 2021. In this message, the DPC indicates that it has completed its investigation and that a draft decision is currently presented to concerned supervisory authorities in accordance with Article 60 GDPR. 

In our previous correspondence, the DPC had informed SOMI that it has launched an inquiry examining TikTok’s compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by design and default requirements, and age verification measures. This inquiry, which the DPC launched in September 2021, was also tasked with examining whether TikTok has complied with the GDPR’s transparency obligations in processing of personal data of users under the age of 18. A preliminary draft decision was issued to TikTok in June 2022.


In the News

Menno Weij on RTL Z news on the visit of TikTok's CEO to the European Commission

Menno Weij, a member of the supervisory board of SOMI, appeared on RTL Z News on January 10th to discuss a recent visit of Shou Zi Chew, TikTok's Chief Executive to the European Commission.

Click here to watch on RTLnieuws (in Dutch)


About SOMI

The Foundation for Market Information Research (SOMI) is a non-profit organization set up to identify and influence issues of social importance. 

SOMI is a recognized claims foundation in the field of privacy and data autonomy and is committed, among other things, to the protection of the fundamental rights of consumers and minors who use various online services. With the app that SOMI has developed, we want to restore ownership and control over personal data to all the people: All your data. all yours. 

SOMI investigates abuses, informs the public and helps injured parties. SOMI does this by conducting collective proceedings and claiming compensation. 

SOMI is currently investigating alleged GDPR violations by Meta (Facebook) and TikTok.