The UK data watchdog has announced that it fined TikTok £12.7m ($15.9 million) for breaching data protection law.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) claims the social media giant used the personal data of children aged under 13 without parental consent.
According to Britain’s data watchdog, the platform allowed more than one million UK children under 13 to use the platform – violating the company’s terms of service which sets 13 as the minimum age to use it.
The Chinese-owned social media platform has been accused of not making enough effort to prevent who enters their app and checking the ages of users.
The data breaches happened between May 2018 and July 2020, according to the ICO.
It’s possible that children’s data may have been used to track them, as well as putting inappropriate content in front of them, according to UK Information Commissioner John Edwards.
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“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,” UK Information Commissioner John Edwards said.
Experts believe this may push other companies to take a closer look at their own data protection policies.
“TikTok’s recent fine for misusing children’s data shows that privacy and security concerns related to apps are a growing issue for regulators and governments around the world,” Mark James, data privacy consultant at DQM GRC, told Verdict.
James claims the incident, along with others, highlights the need for companies to “take strong measures to protect user data and prevent unauthorised access.”
“It is possible that it will unnerve other companies who may now take a closer look at their own data protection policies and practices and make changes to address any weaknesses or vulnerabilities,” James added.
TikTok said they disagreed with the ICO’s decision to fine them but welcomed the reduction from the initial £27m price that was set last year, Reuters reported.
“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,” a TikTok spokesperson said.