BNR – TikTok has been fined €345 million ($368 million) by Irish regulators for breaching child privacy.
The penalty is the largest ever imposed on TikTok by regulators. It comes amid concerns regarding the platform’s handling of children’s data in 2020, particularly regarding age verification and privacy settings.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) issued the fine under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy law.
The law outlines strict guidelines for data handling by companies.
The DPC found that TikTok had failed to provide sufficient transparency to children regarding its privacy settings. It also raised questions about how the platform processed their data.
One significant issue was the default setting for accounts created by individuals aged between 13 and 17. The default configuration was that their accounts were made public upon registration.
The content these users posted was visible to anyone, a design feature that the DPC deemed a violation of GDPR.
TikTok Disagrees with Fine
TikTok has responded by expressing its disagreement with the decision, particularly regarding the magnitude of the fine.
The company stated that the criticisms primarily pertained to features and settings that were in place three years ago.
Moreover, the company stated that many of the settings had already been modified before the investigation began.
For example, TikTok had set all accounts for users under 16 to private by default.
The platform now has three months to ensure that its data processing practices fully comply with GDPR.
Settings Shifted for Child Privacy
The penalty, although substantial, is smaller than recent fines imposed on other tech giants, such as the €1.2 billion ($1.28 billion) fine imposed on Meta previously for data mishandling between Europe and the United States.
However, it significantly exceeds the £12.7 million fine TikTok received from the UK data watchdog in April.
Despite the financial setback, TikTok has demonstrated its commitment to improving child data privacy.
Starting this month, all 16 and 17-year-olds signing up for TikTok will have their accounts set to private by default.