TikTok facing $28m fine over failing to protect children's data
As a parent, I’m always conscious of what my children are getting up to on their devices. It’s common these days for children to have their own smart phones by the time they hit year six, and they all want to know who’s doing what and when. Social media is one of the biggest enticers for young people, and the ability to contact their friends at the press of a button.
TikTok rocketed to fame using the same short video formula as Vine did before it, and creates fun, bitesize snippets of footage and memes for the world to see. Of course, this is very enticing to just about everyone who engages with social media, to express yourself in a way that’s easy to make and even easier to upload. It took the world by storm, particularly with young people.
However, it is no stranger to controversy. Banned in India and rebranded in China, the app has faced numerous lawsuits already, so this news hasn’t surprised that many. Back in 2021, the platform agreed to pay $92m to settle dozens of lawsuits regarded harvesting of users’ personal data, not to mention it has faced severe criticism for their settings not being enough to keep children safe on their platform, leading to significant alterations to the management of accounts. Now a new storm has been whipped up, where TikTok could face a $28.91m fine from the United Kingdom, where TikTok’s settings may be in breach with the UK’s data protection laws.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issues a statement on the matter, which explains how and why TikTok has breached UK data protection laws between May 2018 and July 2020. They claim that TikTok:
- Processed the data of children under the age of thirteen without appropriate parental consent;
- Failed to provide proper information to its users in a concise, transparent and easily understood way; and
- Processed special category data, without legal grounds to do so.
No conclusions have been draw thus far, but these allegations, if proven to be true, could land TikTok in hot water. TikTok is refusing to comment on the issue, and will be issuing a formal statement to ICOs allegations.
According to the Guardian, ICO is looking at more than fifty online services to check for child-centric data compliance, so there could be more allegations for social media giants in the future. For now, it’s important for anyone caring for children to be tech-savvy and aware of what children are consuming both with and without your knowledge. Malware bytes has 5 handy tips to teach your children about social media, and how to prevent them accessing data that isn’t for them.