The UK could fine China's TikTok $29 million for failing to protect children

After the Information Commissioner's Office announced that it has tentatively determined that TikTok violated the UK data protection law between May 2018 and July 2020 by failing to handle the personal data of minor children, the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok may be subject to a $29 million fine.

CNBC reports that TikTok could face a £27 million ($29 million) fine in the UK after privacy regulators found that the company failed to handle children’s data in an acceptable way. The Information Commissioner’s Office issued a “notice of intent” to  TikTok informing the company of its “provisional view that TikTok breached UK data protection law between May 2018 and July 2020.”

07 July 2022, Berlin: The logo of the video community TikTok at the fashion fair Premium. Photo: Jens Kalaene/dpa (Photo by Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images), Xi Jinping, China's president, waves after speaking at a swearing-in ceremony for Hong Kong's chief executive John Lee in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, July 1, 2022. Hong Kongs new security-minded leader was sworn in by President Xi Jinping as the city marks 25 years of Chinese rule, after declaring the Asian financial hub had been reborn after a crackdown on the pro-democracy opposition. Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The ICO claims that TikTok may have processed the data of children under the age of 13 without parental consent, did not present information to its users in an easily understandable manner, and processed “special category data” which includes information on a person’s race or ethnicity without legal grounds.

Information Commissioner John Edwards said in a statement this week: “We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with proper data privacy protections. Companies providing digital services have a legal duty to put those protections in place, but our provisional view is that TikTok fell short of meeting that requirement.”

TikTok has 30 days to respond to the decision and if company officials can produce an accurate defense of its handling of children’s data, the ICO may reduce the fine.

A TikTok spokesperson told CNBC: “While we respect the ICO’s role in safeguarding privacy in the UK, we disagree with the preliminary views expressed and intend to formally respond to the ICO in due course.”

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