TikTok Hit With $370 Mn Fine For Breaching EU Child Privacy Laws

The breach in question spans from 31 July 2020 to 31 December 2020, with TikTok found guilty of multiple infringements of EU privacy regulations

TikTok has been slapped with a hefty fine of EUR 345 million (approximately USD 370 million) for violating European Union privacy laws concerning the handling of children’s personal data.

The punitive measure comes from Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), marking the first time the Chinese-owned short-video platform has faced such a reprimand from the EU’s lead regulator.

The breach in question spans from 31 July 2020, to 31 December 2020, with TikTok found guilty of multiple infringements of EU privacy regulations. As the DPC pointed out, one of the major infractions involved the default setting of accounts for users under the age of 16, which were automatically set to “public” during 2020. Additionally, TikTok failed to adequately verify whether individuals claiming to be a child’s parent or guardian through the “family pairing” feature were genuine guardians.

In response to the allegations, TikTok’s spokesperson expressed strong disagreement with the DPC’s decision to Reuters, particularly contesting the size of the substantial fine. The spokesperson argued that many of the criticisms leveled against the platform had already been addressed through measures implemented prior to the initiation of the DPC’s investigation, which commenced in September 2021.

TikTok had introduced enhanced parental controls to the family pairing feature in November 2020, aiming to provide better safeguards for younger users. Subsequently, in January 2021, the default setting for all registered users under the age of 16 was switched to “private.”

In response to the regulatory action, TikTok has announced plans to further update its privacy materials, with the aim of providing clearer distinctions between public and private accounts. As part of these changes, starting later this month, a private account will be pre-selected for new users aged 16 to 17 when they register for the app.

The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has given TikTok a three-month window to rectify all processing practices found in breach of privacy laws.

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