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UK’s ICO Slams TikTok With £12.7 Million Fine For Underage Users

Information Commissioner’s Office says, ‘Their data may have been used to track them and profile them, potentially delivering harmful, inappropriate content’

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has slammed Chinese-owned video app TikTok with a £12.7 million fine for several breaches of data protection law including the unlawful use of underage children’s data.

According to the ICO’s estimation, nearly 1.5 million kids under 13 in the UK use the popular video app in 2020, despite 13 being the minimum age to create an account.

John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner said, “Our £12.7m fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had. They did not do enough to check who was using their platform or take sufficient action to remove the underage children that were using their platform.”

UK’s data protection law says that organisations that want to use personal data to offer information society services to persons below the age of 13 must have their parent or guardian’s consent.

The ICO commissioner’s statement acknowledged that TikTok has failed to abide by the above law even though it was fully aware that some users below age 13 were using its platform. The video app also failed to perform adequate checks in identifying and removing underage users.

“As a consequence, an estimated one million under-13s were inappropriately granted access to the platform, with TikTok collecting and using their personal data. That means that their data may have been used to track them and profile them, potentially delivering harmful, inappropriate content at their very next scroll,” said Edwards.

After investigation, the ICO discovered that some senior employees raised internal concerns about underage children using TikTok without being removed by the app itself.

“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,” added Edwards.

Written By

Isa Muhammad is a writer and video game journalist covering many aspects of entertainment media including the film industry. He's steadily writing his way to the sharp end of journalism and enjoys staying informed. If he's not reading, playing video games or catching up on his favourite TV series, then he's probably writing about them.

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