For failing to protect children’s privacy while they use the app, TikTok could be hit with a £27 million fine.
According to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the video-sharing website may have handled underage users’ data without getting their consent. The watchdog stated that the infringement occurred over a period of more than two years, starting in July 2020, but that it had not yet reached a final determination. TikTok claims that it disagrees with the conclusions and calls them “provisional.”
TikTok Inc. and TikTok Information Technologies UK Limited have received a “notice of intent” from the ICO, a legal document that comes before a potential penalties. The notice outlines the ICO’s preliminary conclusion that between May 2018 and July 2020, TikTok violated UK data protection law.
According to the ICO probe, the social platform may:
Have failed to offer accurate information to its users in a clear, transparent, and understandable manner, processed special category data without having the legal justification to do so, and processed the data of children under the age of 13 without the requisite parental consent.
Despite its restrictions barring under-13s on the platform, 44% of eight to 12-year-olds in the UK use TikTok, according to Ofcom. The company received a record-breaking $5.7 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission in 2019 for improper handling of children’s data.
South Korea has imposed a fine on it for comparable grounds as well. A proposal to raise the age at which children receive special online privacy safeguards to 16 and outlaw targeted advertising to children without their consent was approved by the US Senate Commerce Committee in July.