TikTok fined for failing to protect young users’ data

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TikTok has been fined by the Irish Data Protection Commission, which investigated the social network for its handling of children’s data.

According to the European authorities’ findings, TikTok processed the personal data of its younger users in a manner that violated the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules.

Based on its findings, the regulator has slapped a $368 million fine on TikTok. Between July 31 and December 31, 2020, the Irish Data Protection Commission looked into TikTok’s adherence to its obligations regarding the protection of personal information for users ages 13 to 17.

The regulator stated in one of its conclusions that TikTok by default sets child users’ profiles to public. This action made the profiles of younger users that fall within the age bracket accessible to the public. 

TikTok is also guilty of making Duet and Stitch opt-in features for their accounts, which gave access to anybody in terms of creating new videos. 

The regulator also discovered that TikTok permitted adult users to pair with children’s accounts without first confirming that the adult was in fact the child’s parent or legal guardian. TikTok allowed adult users to enable direct messaging for both of them, when the element should not be available for underage users.

The UK’s data watchdog fined TikTok $15.8 million in April for failing to protect children’s privacy. According to an investigation carried out by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), TikTok used the data of children of this age without parental consent. 

According to the investigation, in 2020, up to 1.4 million UK children under the age of 13 were able to access the Chinese app’s platform.

According to the ICO, many children were able to access the site despite TikTok setting 13 as the minimum age to create an account. This, of course, exposed them to vulnerabilities and inappropriate content.

According to the BBC, information commissioner John Edwards stated that laws are in place to ensure that children are just as safe online as they are offline. TikTok did not abide by those laws.

As a consequence, an estimated one million under-13s were inappropriately granted access to the platform, with TikTok collecting and using their personal data.

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Author: Ola Ric

Ola Ric is a professional tech writer. He has written and provided tons of published articles for professionals and private individuals. He is also a social commentator and analyst, with relevant experience in the use of social media services.

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