TikTok was fined PS12.7 million for violating data protection laws, including the use of personal data of children under 13 years old without parental consent.
According to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, the Chinese-owned video app did not do enough to verify that users were older than 13 years old and had not taken sufficient steps to delete accounts belonging to underage users.
According to the watchdog, TikTok was able to allow as many as 1.4 Million children in the UK to use its platform by 2020, even though it is only 13 years old.
John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner, stated that there are laws to ensure children are safe online as well as in the real world. These laws were not followed by TikTok.
He said, “TikTok should know better. TikTok should’ve done better.
“Our PS12.7m fine is a reflection of the serious consequences their failures might have had.
“They didn’t do enough to verify who was using their platform, or take sufficient action against the underage children using their platform,”
He said that data from children could have been used to profile and track them. This could lead to inappropriate or harmful content being shown to them.
Over cyber security concerns, TikTok will be removed from the network and devices of parliament by blocking it.
Shou Zi Chew, chief executive of TikTok, says TikTok is not an agent for China
TikTok spokespeople stated that they disagree with the decision of the ICO but were pleased to see the fine reduced from the PS27m estimated by the ICO last fiscal year.
“We make significant investments to keep children under 13 from the platform, and our 40,000 strong safety staff works round the clock to keep the platform safe.
“We will continue to evaluate the decision and are considering next steps.”
TikTok is owned and operated by China-based ByteDance. Many countries, including the UK have expressed concern about its closeness to the Chinese government.
The UK recently banned the app from government phones. Similar bans were announced by Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.