TikTok Fined $15.9 Million in the UK

Efthymis Oraiopoulos
By Efthymis Oraiopoulos
April 4, 2023UK
TikTok Fined $15.9 Million in the UK
The TikTok logo on an iPhone in London on Feb. 28, 2023. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A British data watchdog imposed a fine of £12.7 million ($15.9 million) on the video-sharing application TikTok on Tuesday over an alleged breach of data protection law.

The accusation was, among others, that TikTok processed the data of children under the age of 13 without their parents’ consent.

UK data-protection law says that organizations that use personal data when offering information society services to children under 13 must have consent from their parents or carers.

“TikTok failed to do that, even though it ought to have been aware that under 13s were using its platform. TikTok also failed to carry out adequate checks to identify and remove underage children from its platform,” according to the press release.

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) stated that more than 1.4 million children in the United Kingdom used TikTok between 2018 and 2020.

TikTok’s policy says that only people over 13 can use the app.

The ICO, however, claimed that TikTok did not do enough to check the actual ages of its users.

“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.

Children’s data may have been used to track and profile them, potentially presenting them with harmful or inappropriate content, he added.

A TikTok spokesperson said the company disagreed with the ICO’s decision, but was pleased the fine had been reduced from the possible £27 million set out by the ICO last year.

“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,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to review the decision and are considering next steps.”

However, there are many websites with inappropriate content that can be freely accessed by children, and which for years governments have not taken any actions against.

The ICO’s investigation also found that between 2018 and 2020, TikTok failed to provide “proper information to people using the platform about how their data is collected, used, and shared in a way that is easy to understand.”

Without that information, children were unlikely to be able to make informed choices about whether and how to engage with it, according to the ICO.

Furthermore, the ICO found that TikTok failed to ensure that “the personal data belonging to its UK users was processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner.”

The ICO’s fine follows moves by Western governments and institutions in recent weeks, including Britain, to bar the usage of TikTok on official devices over security concerns.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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