The U.K. Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) fined social media firm TikTok 12.7 million pounds (U.S. $15.9 million) for using children's personal data without parental agreement and other violations of data protection regulations.
The ICO accused TikTok of breaking the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the United Kingdom, which requires corporations to acquire parental consent before using the personal data of children under the age of 13.
The corporation did not obtain parental authorization before utilising children's data between May 2018 and July 2020, according to a news release issued by the ICO on Tuesday.
Although TikTok's policies prevented children from using the platform, the ICO reported that approximately 1.4 million U.K. children under the age of 13 utilised it in 2020.
According to the regulator, TikTok should have been aware that numerous minors were using the platform.
The company was further accused of failing to comply with the U.K. GDPR because it did not fully inform users in plain language about how their data was collected, used, and shared. Without that information, users “were unlikely to be able to make informed choices about whether and how to engage with [the platform],” the ICO said.
TikTok was also found to have failed to ensure that the data it obtained from users was handled properly, equitably, and transparently, according to the regulator.
In 2019, the ICO launched an inquiry against TikTok. Investigators discovered that its staff had internal concerns about minors utilising the platform.
“TikTok did not respond adequately,” the ICO said.
Considerations for compliance: In September, the ICO announced that TikTok might face a punishment of up to £27 million (then-US $29 million) for alleged violations. The ICO said it worked with the company and reduced the proposed fine by more than half after deciding not to pursue provisional findings linked to "unlawful use of special category data."
“[Children’s] data may have been used to track them and profile them, potentially delivering harmful, inappropriate content at their very next scroll,” stated John Edwards, U.K. information commissioner. “TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better. Our … fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had.”
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified in front of Congress in March, amid a renewed drive in the United States to prohibit the platform because to worries that its China-based parent company, ByteDance, may share data with Chinese authorities.
Business response: TikTok disagreed with the ICO's ruling, according to an emailed comment from a company spokeswoman.
“We are pleased that the fine announced today has been reduced to under half the amount proposed last year,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to review the decision and are considering next steps.”
By fLEXI tEAM