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UK watchdog fines TikTok $16M for ‘misusing children’s data’

Britain’s data watchdog has said it had fined TikTok $15.9
million for breaching data protection law including by using
the personal data of children aged under 13 without parental

“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,” UK Information Commissioner John Edwards said on Tuesday.

Children’s data may have been used to track and profile them, potentially presenting them with harmful or inappropriate content, he added.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) estimated that
TikTok allowed as many as 1.4 million UK children under 13 to
use its platform in 2020, even though it sets 13 as the minimum
age to create an account.

The ICO said the data breaches occurred between May 2018 and
July 2020, with the Chinese-owned video app not having done
enough to check who was using the platform and remove the
underage children who were.

READ MORE: Can governments regulate how children access social media

Fine reduced

A TikTok spokesperson said the company disagreed with the
ICO’s decision but was pleased the fine had been reduced from
the possible $33.7 million set out by the ICO last year.

“We invest heavily to help keep under 13s off the platform
and our 40,000-strong safety team works around the clock to help
keep the platform safe for our community,” the spokesperson

“We will continue to review the decision and are considering
next steps.”

The ICO’s fine follows moves by Western governments and
institutions in recent weeks, including Britain, to bar the usage of
TikTok on official devices over security concerns.

Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube under fire over child safety

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