TikTok could face £27m fine over children's privacy

TikTok could face £27m fine over children’s privacy

Chinese video app TikTok could face a £27 million ($29 million) fine in the UK for failing to protect children’s data.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said on Monday it had issued a “Notice of Intent” to TikTok and TikTok Information Technologies UK, advising them of ICO’s interim view that the platform social media company had breached UK data protection law between May 2018 and July 2020. The Notice of Intent is a legal document that precedes a potential financial penalty.

The regulator said it had reached the conclusion of the provision following an investigation which began in 2019.

According to the ICO probe, TikTok may have:

  • handled the personal information of under 13s without obtaining proper parental consent
  • failed to provide accurate information to its users in a clear, transparent and understandable manner
  • processed special category data without a valid legal basis

The ICO said the findings of the notice are preliminary and no inference should be made as to whether there has actually been a breach of data protection laws or whether a monetary fine will possibly be imposed.

“We will carefully review all representations from TikTok before making a final decision,” the regulator added.

The maximum penalty the ICO could impose would be based on an estimate of 4% of TikTok’s worldwide annual revenue.

A TikTok spokesperson said CNBC the company disagrees with the ICO’s preliminary findings and that the company intends to submit a formal response.

“While we respect the ICO’s role in protecting privacy in the UK, we do not agree with the preliminary views expressed and intend to respond formally to the ICO in due course. “said the TikTok spokesperson.

Information Commissioner John Edwards said the ICO’s initial assessment is that TikTok failed to comply with the legal obligation imposed on companies offering digital services to implement appropriate privacy protections. Datas.

“We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with appropriate data privacy protections,” he noted.

Edwards added that the ICO is actively investigating the Children’s Code compliance of more than 50 different online services.

The hugely popular TikTok app, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has drawn criticism in several countries for having ties to the Chinese government.

In the United States, former President Donald Trump even tried to ban TikTok by executive order.

Software engineer Felix Krause claimed last month that TikTok’s in-app iOS browser injects JavaScript code into external web pages, allowing the app to track “all inputs and keystrokes” when viewed. a user interacts with a certain website.

Britain’s parliament also suspended its TikTok account last month after a number of MPs and peers raised concerns about the platform’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party and the way it handled user data.

In June, a US communications regulator official urged Apple and Google to ban the app on “national security” grounds.

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