TikTok has been fined €345 million ($368 million) by a major European internet authority for not doing enough to protect young people.
The Irish Data Protection Commission, which regulates TikTok’s operations in the European Union, announced on Friday that the company had violated the bloc’s signature privacy law.
According to a DPC investigation, TikTok’s default settings did not adequately protect children’s accounts in the second half of 2020. According to the report, newly created children’s profiles were set to public by default, allowing them to be read by anyone with Internet access.
TikTok failed to adequately communicate these privacy dangers to children and also used so-called “dark patterns” to guide users to reveal more personal information, according to the regulator.
Another breach of EU privacy law, according to the DPC, was a TikTok feature known as Family Pairing that did not require an adult monitoring a child’s account to be validated as the child’s actual parent or guardian. According to the authority, the ruling meant that any adult could affect a child’s privacy precautions.
In April 2020, TikTok launched Family Pairing, which allows parents to link their accounts with child accounts to control screen time, prevent inappropriate content, and limit direct chat to young people. Additionally, you can also read about How to Go Live on TikTok in 2023: 50 Amazing Tips Explained
The DPC’s ruling gives the corporation three months to correct its errors and includes a written reprimand.
However, in a blog post published on Friday, the corporation said it “respectfully” disagreed with key parts of the ruling.
“Most of the criticisms of the decision are no longer relevant due to the measures we introduced in early 2021,” said Elaine Fox, TikTok’s European head of privacy.
TikTok made modifications in early 2021, including making new and current accounts private by default for users ages 13 to 15, according to Fox. Later this month, “we will begin rolling out a redesigned account registration flow for new users aged 16 and 17” which by default will have a private setting.
TikTok did not specify whether Family Pairing would now verify an adult’s relationship with a child. However, the company stated that the feature has been improved over time with more options and features. He went on to say that none of the regulator’s findings indicated that TikTok’s age verification processes violated EU privacy rules.
TikTok was also punished in the United Kingdom in April for a series of data protection violations, including the exploitation of children’s personal data.
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