The problems for the beleaguered short-video platform, TikTok, continue to compound after it was fined £12.7 million by the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for a number of breaches of data protection law, which includes failing to use children’s personal data lawfully. The regulator revealed that the company allowed nearly 1.4 million children under 13 in the UK to use its platform in 2020, going against its own rules of not allowing underage children to create an account, as per the findings of its investigation. Moreover, the company failed to obtain consent from the parents/carers of these kids as required under the UK’s data protection law despite knowing that children may have been using the platform. It added that TikTok did not have adequate checks to identify and remove these children. Why it matters: It is a notable development as it gives insight into how various Western countries across the world have subjected TikTok to intense scrutiny in the wake of national security concerns. Furthermore, it is one of the largest fines to be issued by the ICO which may provoke other countries to undertake investigations of their own. It may be prudent to remember that this is not the first time that TikTok has been subjected to an investigation by a European country over its app’s policies for underage users and data transfers to China. It remains to be seen if the fine leads to a change in the practices of a company which earns billions of dollars…
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