Social Media

TikTok fined £12.7M for abusing children’s data

Apr 4, 2023

'TikTok did not abide by those laws' to 'keep children safe in the digital world'

TikTok faces a £12.7 million fine for improperly handling the data of an estimated 1.4 million underage UK users in 2020, as reported by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) criticized the Chinese-owned video app for insufficient efforts to verify users’ ages and to remove accounts belonging to underage users. The ICO estimated that in 2020, TikTok enabled about 1.4 million UK children under 13 to access its platform, despite 13 being the minimum age for account creation.

UK Information Commissioner John Edwards stated, “There are laws in place to make sure our children are as safe in the digital world as they are in the physical world. TikTok did not abide by those laws.”

He further added, “TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better. Our £12.7 million fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had. They did not do enough to check who was using their platform or take sufficient action to remove the underage children that were using their platform.”

Concerns over children's data potentially used for tracking and profiling

Commissioner Edwards also expressed concerns about children’s data potentially being used for tracking and profiling, which could expose them to harmful or unsuitable content. Although a TikTok spokesperson disagreed with the ICO’s decision, they acknowledged the reduced fine from the initial proposed £27 million.

The spokesperson said, “We invest heavily to help keep under 13s off the platform and our 40,000 strong safety team works around the clock to help keep the platform safe for our community. We will continue to review the decision and are considering next steps.”

Owned by China-based ByteDance, TikTok has faced scrutiny due to its ties with the Chinese government. Recently, the UK banned the app on government phones, joining similar bans by Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the European Parliament, and the European Commission.

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