TikTok has been fined £12.7 million for misusing the data of Children

TikTok has been fined £12.7 million for misusing the data of Children

TikTok receives a slap on the wrist for collecting the data of children

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s data watchdog, has issued a £12.7 million fine to TikTok for breaking laws that are designed to protect the data of children. Given TikTok’s popularity, this fine is nothing to TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, which had revenues of over $80 billion last year. As such, the UK’s fine for TikTok can be considered a paltry sum, signalling that fines for large firms should be much larger. 

The ICO’s fine for TikTok covers May 2018 to July 2020, when TikTok is said to have held and used the data of Children under the age of 13 without parental consent. TikTok’s terms of service states that the application should not be used by children under the age of 13, but they had done little to discourage children from using the app and made no efforts to gain parental consent.

With the data that TikTok had gained from Children, TikTok is said to have tracked and profiled users and potentially present these users with harmful or inappropriate content. Below is a statement that information commissioner John Edwards made to the BBC.

     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.

 TikTok has been fined £12.7 million for misusing the data of Children

Currently, TikTok is a hugely controversial company, mostly due to its Chinese ownership and allegations that the app has been used to spy on people outside of China. Currently, TikTok is banned from use on the phones of government devices in the UK, EU, Canada and the US over security fears. There are even pressures in the US to ban the app entirely.

TikTok has been facing a lot of government scrutiny, and the ICO’s fine for TikTok has shown that the punishments for multi-billion dollar companies breaking the law are not large enough to prevent them from breaking the law. In most instances, it looks like major companies will fix problems when they face fines, and not take actions to prevent themselves from breaking the law in the first place. Fines are not deterring lawbreaking for big data companies. That should change.

You can join the discussion on TikTok getting fined £12.7 million in the UK on the OC3D Forums.