What’s the TEA?
An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that TikTok allowed up to 1.4 million UK children aged under 13 to use the platform in 2020 even though TikTok’s own rules stipulate that users must be aged 13 years or older to sign up. The Information Commissioner John Edwards then went on to say that “Their data may have been used to track them and profile them, potentially delivering harmful, inappropriate content at their very next scroll.” Furthermore, the investigation found that TikTok did not respond adequately when an internal concern was raised by an employee about those under 13s using the platform.
What’s the law?
Under the UK Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR, parental consent must be obtained for children who are under the age of 13. Reasonable efforts, taking into account the technology available and the risks inherent in the processing, must be taken to verify that the person providing the consent holds parental responsibility for the child.
What was the ICO’s response?
TikTok had failed to gain parental consent to use the children’s data and therefore breached UK Data Protection Laws. In the words of the ICO Commissioner John Edwards “TikTok should have known better, TikTok should have done better.”
What’s next for TikTok?
With TikTok’s revenue in the billions, this fine will be like petty cash to the social media giant. However, given the mounting global security concerns surrounding the Chinese-owned social media app, this recent fine will hit TikTok’s reputation hard! This fine comes at the same time as today’s news from down under about Australia being added to the growing list of countries banning the app on government phones. It sure looks like the clock is ticking on TikTok!!
What’s next for the industry?
The UK government is set to introduce its Online Safety Bill which will bring in tougher requirements for social media companies and could lead to the imprisonment of tech executives who fail in protecting children online. This could be a real game-changer for tech giants, so keep your eyes peeled for any updates!