TikTok fined €345 million for breaching EU children's privacy laws
TikTok has been fined €345 million ($370 million) by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) for breaching EU privacy laws regarding the processing of children's personal data. The fine is the largest ever imposed by the DPC and one of the largest under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The DPC found that TikTok breached a number of EU privacy laws between July 31, 2020, and December 31, 2020. These included:
- Setting accounts for users under the age of 16 to "public" by default
- Failing to verify whether a user was actually a child user's parent or guardian when linked through the "family pairing" feature
- Not providing clear and concise information to parents about the risks of their children using TikTok
- Failing to obtain parental consent for the processing of children's personal data
TikTok has said that it disagrees with the decision and that most of the criticisms are no longer relevant as a result of measures it introduced before the DPC's probe began. However, the DPC has found that TikTok's breaches were serious and that the company failed to take appropriate steps to protect children's privacy.
The fine is a significant blow to TikTok, which is already facing scrutiny from regulators around the world. The company is also facing a second probe from the DPC into the transferring of personal data to China.
The fine is also a reminder to other tech companies that they must comply with EU privacy laws, even if they are headquartered outside of the bloc. The GDPR gives regulators the power to impose heavy fines on companies that breach these laws.
Implications of the fine
The fine has a number of implications for TikTok and other tech companies.
First, it shows that EU regulators are serious about protecting children's privacy online. The fine is the largest ever imposed on a tech company for breaching EU children's privacy laws.
Second, the fine is a reminder to tech companies that they must take steps to protect children's privacy. TikTok has already taken some steps to address the concerns raised by the DPC, but it is likely that the company will need to do more to comply with EU privacy laws.
Third, the fine is a wake-up call to other tech companies. The DPC has shown that it is willing to impose heavy fines on companies that breach EU privacy laws, even if they are headquartered outside of the bloc.
What can parents do?
Parents can take a number of steps to protect their children's privacy on TikTok:
- Talk to their children about the risks of using social media and how to stay safe online
- Set up parental controls on TikTok to restrict their children's access to certain features and content
- Monitor their children's TikTok activity
- Encourage their children to be careful about what information they share online
Parents can also report any concerns they have about their children's privacy on TikTok to the DPC.