The UK’s privacy data watchdog fined TikTok $15.9 million for breaching data protection law including by using the personal data of children aged under 13 without parental consent.

The British watchdog was investigating data breaches between May 2018 and July 2020

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.

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.

A fine of 12.7 million British pounds ($15.9m) issued to the short-video-sharing app TikTok, which is wildly popular with young people. 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.

John Edwards – UK Information Commissioner

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

TikTok response

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

TikTok Spokesperson

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.

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