UK Watchdog Fines TikTok Over Misuse of Kids’ Data


TikTok, the popular short video-sharing app for young people, has been hit with a substantial fine from Britain’s privacy watchdog. The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined the company 12.7 million pounds ($15.9 million) for violations of data protection laws. This follows an investigation into the platform’s use of children’s data.

TikTok admitted that it allowed about 1.4 million underage users to create accounts, despite the company policy that restricts registration to those over 13. In addition, the company failed to get consent from parents to process their kids’ data, an action that is required by the U.K. data protection laws.

John Edwards, the Information Commissioner, said the penalty “reflects the serious impact their failures may have had” and that “TikTok should have done better.”

In response to the penalty, TikTok has expressed its disagreement with the decision of the watchdog. The company has said it invests heavily in keeping under 13s away from the platform and has added a 40,000-strong safety team to ensure its users’ safety. It is considering the next steps in light of the ruling.

John Edwards is the Information Commissioner in the UK and is in charge of overseeing data protection laws to ensure that companies are following them. He currently serves as Chair of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act Board, which provides independent oversight of the powers granted to UK law enforcement agencies for surveillance and interception of communications.

This latest penalty is the latest example of heightened scrutiny that TikTok, owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance, has faced in the West due to levels of concern over issues of data privacy and cybersecurity. With the penalty, the company must ensure that they abide by the data protection laws of the United Kingdom or they will face further penalties. The platform must review their practices and make sure that their policies will successfully protect users from unwanted data usage.