The Chinese-owned social media app has come under political pressure these past months. The video-sharing app has been fined 12.7 million pounds for failing to secure the data and privacy of minors. Although at the start of the investigation, the UK Information Commission threatened to charge the tech giant over 27 million pounds.
This suit comes just after TikTok was banned from official government phones in the UK, Australia, and many other countries.
The Information Commission Office (ICO) investigation found that around 1.4 million children have been using the app, despite the social media company’s stated guidelines that do not allow young children to create an account and use the platform. The Information Commissioner’s Office stated that this breach occurred between May 2018 and January 2020. The commission also said that the social media giant needed to go further to check those who use the platform and remove underage users.
According to UK data protection law, any platform that uses the personal data of kids under 13 must have parental consent.
The ICO commissioner, John Edwards, said that TikTok collected and used the personal information of children who were improperly granted access to the app. Their data may be used to track and profile them, potentially delivering harmful, inappropriate content on their next scroll.
TikTok says it disagrees with the decision in an official statement, “Tiktok is a platform for users aged 13 and over. We invest heavily to keep people under 13 off the platform, and our forty thousand-strong safety team works around the clock to help keep Tiktok safe for the community. We will continue to review the decision and consider the next step.”
TikTok argues to have enhanced its sign-up process by preventing under users from claiming they are old enough and by checking for indicators that a user under 13 is using a particular account.
In many Western nations, TikTok is playing defense against worries that it gathers enormous amounts of data that it might use for information operations or spying.
TikTok’s ownership by Chinese business ByteDance sets it apart from all other social media platforms, increasing suspicion. Will the company defend itself against the multiple suits and investigations?
Image by TikTok