TikTok has been fined more than $15 million by Britain’s data watchdog for failing to enforce rules under which children under the age of 13 are not allowed to use the social media platform without parental consent.
The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on Tuesday said the Chinese-owned video app didn’t do enough to prevent “up to 1.4 million U.K. children” under the age of 13 from using the platform since 2020, despite the fact that the company’s own rules ban the practice.
“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,” ISO Commissioner John Edwards said in a statement.
“As a consequence, an estimated one million under 13s were inappropriately granted access to the platform, with TikTok collecting and using their personal data,” he went on to point out.
“That means that their data may have been used to track them and profile them, potentially delivering harmful, inappropriate content at their very next scroll,” the ICO chief added, noting that “TikTok should have known better.”
A TikTok representative countered the watchdog’s decision in a in a statement saying that “TikTok is a platform for users aged 13 and over.” “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,” the statement continued.
But TikTok also underlined that while they disagree, they are pleased that the fine announced by the ICO today has been reduced to under half the more than $33 million that the data watchdog had originally said last year it would fine them for failing to enforce age limits.
“We will continue to review the decision and are considering next steps,” the TikTok statement said.
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