media centre

How many times have you wished you'd had the benefit of foresight or hindsight when making business decisions? Speak to one of our experts today.

TikTok fined £12.7 million for using children's data

The privacy watchdog has fined the viral video app' TikTok £12.7m for illegally using the personal data of more than a million young children.

Ofcom research revealed that 53 percent of 8 to 12 year olds use Chinese-owned TikTok, making it the most popular social media service in that age group after YouTube. YouTube has a dedicated version specifically for children.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that, despite claiming to have banned them from using the service, the app' had allowed 1.4m under 13s to sign up in 2020, alone.

The UK's data laws require that there be parental consent when children under 13 sign up to app's such as TikTok. However, the ICO said the video-sharing app' had broken the law by failing to check people’s ages and removing underage users from the platform.

“An estimated one million under 13s were inappropriately granted access to the platform, with TikTok collecting and using their personal data, “ said the Information Commissioner, John Edwards. “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. TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better. Our £12.7m fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had. They did not do enough to check who was using their platform or take sufficient action to remove the underage children that were using their platform.”

The watchdog said concerns had been raised from within TikTok about under 13s using the service and that, in the regulator’s view, the app' failed to respond adequately to those concerns. Last year ICO said that it could fine them up to £27m, though following representations from TikTok it reduced the figure. This, however, remains amongst the largest fines issued by the regulator.

Similarly, TikTok was fined $5.7m (£4.6m) in 2017 by the United States for misusing children’s data, in what was then a record penalty for violating children’s privacy laws.

Owned by China’s ByteDance, the application has faced growing scrutiny around the world over its ownership and its treatment of young users, with the UK, US and EU among those to have banned the app from all government-issued devices. Australia became the latest country to issue a similar ban.

A spokesman for TikTok said the company disagreed with the ICO’s decision but that it was pleased that the final fine imposed had been reduced. 


How can we help?

Please fill in this form and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Please enter your name
Please enter your phone number
Please enter your email address
Please let us know how you heard about us
Please enter your enquiry
One more thing... Please enter the verification code

We’ll only use this information to handle your enquiry and we won’t share it with any third parties. For more details see our Privacy Policy.