TikTok fined $368M for violating children’s privacy in Europe

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TikTok received a fine of over $368 million by European regulators for its lack of protection of children’s personal information.

The Data Protection Commission (DPC), based in Ireland, determined that TikTok nudged users toward privacy-intrusive options during the account registration process and when posting videos. The DPC also found that TikTok’s profile settings for child users were set to public by default, which posed a risk to children under the age of 13 who gained access to the platform.

The violations occurred from July 31, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020. The commission examined platform settings for child users, age verification and transparency.

The DPC said that a family pairing setting allowed a non-child user, unverified as a parent or guardian, to pair their account to a child’s account. This older user could turn off limits on direct messaging for the child.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has said that it respectfully disagrees with several aspects of the decision, particularly the level of the fine. The company also said that the investigation began after the app’s settings had already changed and most of the issues at hand have now been addressed.

TikTok has made some changes to its privacy settings in recent years, such as setting accounts for 13-15 year olds to private by default and removing the option that allowed any user to comment on videos created by 13-15 year olds. It has also changed its family pairing features, including adding screen time limits, muting notifications, and a content filtering tool.

The DPC has ordered TikTok to bring the rules to compliance within three months.

The sources for this piece include an article in Axios.

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