Children’s data misuse fined $15.9m by the UK for TikTok


The UK’s privacy watchdog fined TikTok multi-million dollars for misusing children’s data and other breaches of protection of young users’ data.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said Tuesday it had issued a 12.7 million British pounds ($15.9 million) fine to the short-video-sharing app, which is hugely popular with young people.

It’s the latest example of intense scrutiny that TikTok and its parent, Chinese tech firm ByteDance, are going through withinside the West, in which governments are increasingly involved approximately the app’s information privacy and cybersecurity risks.

The British watchdog, which was investigating the data breach between May 2018 and July 2020, said that TikTok allowed 1.4 million U.K. children under 13 to use the app in 2020, despite the platform’s own rules prohibiting minors from setting up accounts.

TikTok did not adequately identify and remove children under the age of 13 from the platform, the watchdog said. And even though it knew young children were using the app, TikTok failed to obtain consent.

“The regulation is there to make certain our kids are as secure withinside the virtual international as they’re in the physical world TikTok has not complied with these laws,” said Information Commissioner John Edwards in a press release.

He said the social media company had collected and used the personal information of children, who were given inappropriate access to the app.

“This means that their data could be used to track them and profile them, possibly delivering harmful, besides the factor content material cloth to them on their next scroll,” Edwards said. The company stated it disagreed with the watchdog’s decision.

“We invest heavily in helping to keep under-13s off the platform, and our 40,000-strong security team works across the clock to assist hold the platform secure for our community,” TikTok stated in a statement.

“We will continue to review the decision and consider the next steps,” the statement added, TikTok says it has improved its sign-up system since the violations no longer allow users to easily declare they are old enough, and it is looking for other signs that an account is being used by someone under 13.

This fine also covers other breaches of UK data privacy laws.

The watchdog said TikTok failed to properly disclose how their data is collected, used and shared in an easily understandable way.

Without this information, it is unlikely that young users will be able to “make an informed choice” about whether and how to use TikTok, it said. TikTok has failed to ensure that British users’ data is processed lawfully, fairly and transparently, the regulator said.

The social media company initially faced a 27 million British pounds ($33.7m) fine, which was reduced after the company persuaded regulators to drop other charges.

In 2019 U.S. regulators fined TikTok – formerly known as – $5.7m in a case involving similar allegations of illegal collection of children’s personal information.

Also on Tuesday, Australia became the latest country to ban TikTok from its official devices, with authorities from the European Union to the United States worried the app could share data with the Chinese government or push pro-Beijing narratives.

U.S. lawmakers are also considering forcing sales or even banning TikTok altogether as tensions with China rise.

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Marta Lopez

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