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TikTok could face £27m fine over child data privacy ‘failures’

TikTok ICO

TikTok could be forced to pay a £27m fine after the UK’s data watchdog said the video-sharing platform may have failed to protect the privacy of children on its platform.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found the video-sharing platform may have breached UK data law by processing the data of children under the age of 13 without parental consent.

It may have also failed to appropriately provide concise and transparent data to its users, as well as processed ‘special category data’ without legal grounds to do so.

TikTok will not necessarily have to pay the fine, as it has only been issued a ‘notice of intent’ from the UK regulator based on provisional findings.

TikTok’s alleged privacy failings took place between May 2018 and July 2020.

“We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with proper data privacy protections. Companies providing digital services have a legal duty to put those protections in place, but our provisional view is that TikTok fell short of meeting that requirement,” said John Edwards, the Information Commissioner.

“I’ve been clear that our work to better protect children online involves working with organisations but will also involve enforcement action where necessary.

Edwards said that in addition to TikTok, the ICO is currently looking into more than 50 different online services to determine if they’re conforming with child protection rules.

There are also six ongoing investigations from the regulator looking into companies providing digital services that haven’t “taken their responsibilities around child safety seriously enough.”

The UK’s financial regulator in September warned consumers against financial influencers on TikTok that gave advise encouraging high-risk crypto and forex trading.