The British Data Protection Agency (ICO) is considering a fine of 27 million pounds (about 28.70 million francs) against the social network TikTok for not having sufficiently protected the personal data of child users.
The ICO said in a statement on Monday that it had carried out an investigation “showing that the company may have breached UK data protection law” between May 2018 and July 2020.
The regulator says it has issued a ‘notice of intent’ to TikTok, a legal document warning of a potential fine.
The investigation shows that “the data of children under 13 could have been processed without parental consent and without informing users in concise, transparent and easy to understand language”, elaborates the press release.
No decision has yet been made and the conclusions on violations of the law are not yet final, the ICO is now awaiting explanations from TikTok.
“We want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with adequate protections for their personal data,” commented ICO Commissioner John Edwards.
He says his agency is looking at how ’50 different online services are complying with the Children’s Digital Data Act and we have six more investigations into companies that our initial findings failed to take responsibility for data children seriously enough.
Main sources of information
The social networks Instagram and TikTok, as well as the video platform YouTube represent the three main sources of information among teenagers in the United Kingdom, according to a study by the British media regulator Ofcom published in July.
Social networks are regularly accused of having harmful effects on younger users, for example by overexposing them to the seemingly ideal lives of other people or to inappropriate advertisements.
Californian parliamentarians adopted a text at the end of August intended to oblige social networks like Instagram and TikTok or online gaming platforms to put the interests of children before their profits.
The law would require platforms to install settings that offer a high level of data protection for minors by default.
It would also prohibit them from collecting, sharing or selling any personal information that is not necessary for the proper functioning of the service.
She also wants to prevent social networks from using any functionality that they know is harmful to the health, physical or mental, of the youngest users.
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China, where the social network is not available.