'Very Disturbing’: UK Slaps CCP-Tied TikTok with $15.9M Fine Over Child Data Violations

April 11th, 2023 3:43 PM

A British data protection agency ordered TikTok to pay £12.7 million — or $15.9 million —  after the app failed to bar children under the age of 13 from using the app.

The communist Chinese government-tied TikTok app reportedly allowed over 1.4 million children under 13 to use the app in 2020 alone, directly violating U.K. laws that prohibit apps from using children’s data without parental consent, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found. The British probe found that TikTok did little to nothing to keep children under the age of 13 from creating accounts, The New York Times reported on April 4.

“TikTok ‘did not do enough’ to check who was using their platform and take sufficient action to remove the underage children that were,” said the ICO in its scathing report. “The ICO investigation found that a concern was raised internally with some senior employees about children under 13 using the platform and not being removed. In the ICO’s view TikTok did not respond adequately.”

“TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better,” said ICO Commissioner John Edwards in a press release. “Our £12.7m fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had.”

Lawmakers and parental rights groups have voiced concerns about allowing children to use Big Tech platforms because of potentially inappropriate content shared on the app.

“PDE poll data from September 2022 found that American parents are wary of TikTok; 68 percent of parents are not comfortable letting their children use the app without adult supervision,” Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily told MRC Free Speech America. “The families we've spoken to worry about topics including eating disorders, gender identity, violence, and sex.”

The news of the fine came weeks after the TikTok CEO was grilled by a bipartisan collective of U.S. lawmakers over the Big Tech company’s ties to the communist Chinese government. “Very disturbing,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) tweeted in reaction to the fine. “It’s time to ban TikTok here in the United States.”

“TikTok CEO’s testimony last month underscored the need for national privacy legislation that puts consumers back in control of their data and provides extra protections for our children,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) wrote in a tweet.

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