NEWS5 April 2023

ICO fines TikTok £12.7m over children’s data

GDPR News Privacy UK Youth

UK – Social media platform TikTok has been fined £12.7m by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for failures in its use of children’s personal data.

TikTok app

The ICO said that TikTok had allowed up to 1.4 million children aged under 13 to use the platform in 2020 despite its own rules not allowing children of that age to create an account.

TikTok failed to get parental consent from parents and carers for children to use the platform, the ICO said, which is required under UK data protection law.

The ICO said TikTok also failed to carry out adequate checks to identify and remove underage children from its platform.

In its investigation into TikTok, the ICO found that a concern was raised internally with some senior employees about children under 13 using the platform and not being removed, and the ICO said it felt that TikTok did not respond adequately.

John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner, said: “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.

“TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better. 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.”

The £12.7m fine was less than half of the original £27m fine proposed by the ICO, with the regulator deciding not to pursue a provisional finding related to the unlawful use of special category data.

The ICO’s decision also follows recent bans on the use of TikTok on government phones in several countries, including the UK, US and EU.

In a statement, a TikTok spokesperson said: “We invest heavily to help keep under-13s off the platform and our 40,000-strong safety team works around the clock to help keep the platform safe for our community.

“While we disagree with the ICO’s decision, which relates to May 2018 to July 2020, we are pleased that the fine announced today has been reduced to under half the amount proposed last year. We will continue to review the decision and are considering next steps.”