Tiktok faces €345 million fine in Ireland over child privacy
Irish regulators have imposed a massive €345 million (£296 million) fine on TikTok for breaching children’s privacy.
The penalty, the largest ever imposed on TikTok by regulators, centres on the platform’s handling of children’s data in 2020.
It was specifically related to age verification and privacy settings.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) issued the fine under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
GDPR is a comprehensive privacy law governing how companies handle data.
The DPC found that TikTok had not been adequately transparent regarding its privacy settings with children.
The agency raised questions about the processing of Tiktok’s data.
Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon clarified that upon registration, the platform set accounts created by those aged 13 to 17 to public by default.
It makes the content they post visible to anyone.
Ms Dixon said: “That is precisely at the hands of TikTok because of the way they designed the platform, and we say that infringed the data protection by design and by the default requirements of the GDPR.”
TikTok has expressed its disagreement with the decision.
It highlights many of the issues raised pertained to features and settings that were in place three years ago.
The company said it made changes before the investigation began, such as setting all under-16 accounts to private by default.
Regulators have given the social media firm a three-month deadline to achieve full GDPR compliance for its data processing.
A separate investigation is ongoing to determine whether TikTok unlawfully transferred data from the European Union to China.
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TikTok is owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance.
Fine is smaller than other social media company punishments
While the €345 million fine is substantial, it is notably smaller than other recent penalties.
In May, regulators imposed a €1.2 billion (£1 billion) fine on Meta for mishandling data transfers between Europe and the US.
It exceeds the £12.7 million fine TikTok received from the UK data watchdog in April for permitting children under 13 to use the platform in 2020.
The DPC’s fine specifically pertains to actions taken in 2020.
TikTok has since implemented various measures to enhance compliance.
It includes making accounts for 13 to 15-year-olds private by default and planning further changes for 16 and 17-year-olds.