According to the UK’s data watchdog, TikTok has been fined £12.7m for failing to safeguard the privacy of children. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) conducted an investigation and found that the video-sharing app had violated data protection law between May 2018 and July 2020.
In September, the ICO issued a “notice of intent” to TikTok, which was a warning of a potential fine. Despite its own rules prohibiting children under 13 from creating accounts, the ICO estimates that TikTok allowed up to 1.4 million UK children under 13 to use its platform in 2020.
Platforms that use personal data to offer information to children under 13 must have parental consent according to UK data protection law.
Information commissioner John Edwards stated that TikTok failed to follow laws in place to ensure children’s safety in the digital world. As a result, an estimated one million children under 13 were granted inappropriate access to the platform, and TikTok may have tracked and profiled them, delivering harmful content at their next scroll.
Edwards emphasized that TikTok should have been aware of and adhered to these laws, and the £12.7m fine reflects the serious impact of their failures.