The UK’s data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced that TikTok will be fined £12.7 million for the misuse of children’s data on its platform.
It’s estimated that 1.4 million children under 13 in the UK use the platform, despite 13 being the minimum age required to create an account. The tech company has been accused of failing to protect children’s privacy by sharing their data without parental consent.
According to the investigation, many children were still able to access the platform and their data may have been used for tracking and profiling purposes. In addition to this, the ICO said that the data TikTok collected could have been used to show them inappropriate content.
TikTok has previously claimed that it has “invested heavily” in ways to prevent children under the age of 13 from gaining access to the site. However, the ICO says that’s not the case, stating in an interview that the platform hasn’t taken steps to obtain parental consent.
According to Information Commissioner John Edwards: “There are laws in place to make sure our children are as safe in the digital world as they are in the physical world. 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.
TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better. Our £12.7m fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had.
When you sign up you can be targeted for advertising, you can be profiled, and your data contributes to an algorithm that feeds content if you’ve been looking at content that is not appropriate for your age, that can get more and more extreme. It can be quite harmful to people who are not old enough to fully appreciate the implications and to make appropriate choices.”