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TikTok Could Be Fined More Than $29M Over Failure To Protect Childrens' Privacy

The company allegedly breached children's privacy between 2018 and 2020

TikTok Could Be Fined More Than $29M Over Failure To Protect Childrens' Privacy

TikTok may face a fine of more than $29 million dollars amid a finding by privacy regulators that the company failed to protect children's privacy while using the platform.

The United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) says TikTok may have processed data of children under age 13 without parental consent, failed to provide clear disclosure of information, and processed certain data in violation of the law.

“We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with proper data privacy protections," ICO Commissioner John Edwards said in a statement. "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."

The ICO sent TikTok a notice of intent, which it says typically precedes a potential fine.

“I’ve been clear that our work to better protect children online involves working with organisations but will also involve enforcement action where necessary," Edwards said. "In addition to this, we are currently looking into how over 50 different online services are conforming with the Children’s code and have six ongoing investigations looking into companies providing digital services who haven’t, in our initial view, taken their responsibilities around child safety seriously enough.”

TikTik has 30 days to respond to the ICO, but issued a public statement in response to the allegations.

“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,” the TikTok spokesperson said.

In the United States, the Senate Intelligence Committee requested federal regulators to open an investigation into TikTok to determine if the company mislead U.S. lawmakers.

Senators cited “repeated misrepresentations by TikTok concerning its data security, data processing, and corporate governance practices.”

They also referenced a report that leaked audio from more than 80 separate internal meetings showed that TikTok engineers had access to nonpublic data on the platform's U.S. users.

The ICO noted that their finding is provisional and the agency will consider TikTok's response before making a final decision on if or how much of a financial penalty will be levied.

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