TikTok has been fined 345 million. EUR (£296m) for breaching privacy rights over the processing of children’s personal data, an EU watchdog has said.
It said this also posed a risk to children under 13 signing up, although they are meant to be barred.
And the app’s “family pairing” feature, which allows adults to manage their child’s account settings, wasn’t strict enough and was too easily ignored.
TikTok has hit back at the commission’s findings, which are similar those made by the UK data watchdog earlier this year, which led to a fine of £12.7m. GBP.
TikTok claimed it had already made relevant changes when the Irish investigation began in September 2021, including making all accounts owned by under-16s private by default.
The platform updated its family matching tool earlier this summerand adds the ability for parents to filter out videos they don’t want their kids to see.
Elaine Fox, TikTok’s head of privacy for Europe, said most of the regulator’s criticisms “are no longer relevant”.
The regulator’s record with large technical fines
It has previously been criticized for being too slow with its investigations and subsequent fines.
Earlier this year, the Irish Commission issued a record fine of DKK 1.2 billion. € (£1bn) to US-owned Meta for the transfer of European user data to the USA for processing.
Before then, it had fined the company €390m (£343m) to force users to accept personalized ads.
It has also fined WhatsApp, another Meta company, €225m (£193m) to break other rules on data sharing.
TikTok’s bid to combat privacy concerns
Friday’s fine against TikTok comes as it seeks to combat privacy concerns among European politicians, primarily by launching its first local data center in Dublin.
TikTok CEO Theo Bertram, the company’s vice president of public policy in Europe, said it would create a “specially enhanced protective environment around our European user data”.
Until now, all user data was stored on servers in the US and Singapore.
Ireland will also host another such hub which is under construction and another is being built in Norway.
Those suspicious of TikTok have suggested user information may be shared with the Chinese governmentbut the company has said it would not do so and that Beijing’s laws do not cover data stored abroad.