TikTok Fined €345m over EU’s Child Protection Rules Breach
The Irish Data Protection Commission imposed a 345 million-euro administrative fine on short-form video hosting platform TikTok for violating the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation in processing the personal data of children.
The probe mainly focused on TikTok’s public-by-default settings and family pairing feature, as well as age verification during the registration process. The decision was finalized on Sept. 1, according to a Sept. 15 release.
The regulator found TikTok to be in breach of several of the regulation’s provisions and subsequently ordered the company to bring its processing into compliance within a period of three months from the date of its final decision.
It also looked at TikTok’s age verification measures for persons under 13 and found no infringement, but found the platform did not properly assess the risks to younger people registering on the service.
The DPC highlighted Friday in its ruling how children signing up had TikTok accounts set to public by default, meaning anyone could view or comment on their content.
The watchdog in September 2021 began examining TikTok’s compliance with GDPR in relation to platform settings and personal data processing for users aged under 18.
It also criticised TikTok’s “family pairing” mode, which is designed to link parents’ accounts to those of their teenage offspring, but the DPC found the company did not verify parent or guardian status.
Ireland is at the centre of the GDPR regime because Dublin hosts the European headquarters of TikTok and the likes of Google, Meta and X, formerly Twitter.
TikTok, a division of Chinese tech giant ByteDance, is extremely popular among young people with 150 million users in the United States and 134 million in the European Union.
In response to Friday’s fine, TikTok said it “respectfully disagrees” with the verdict and was “evaluating” how to proceed.
“The DPC’s criticisms are focused on features and settings that were in place three years ago, and that we made changes to well before the investigation even began, such as setting all under 16 accounts to private by default,” a TikTok spokesperson told AFP.