Britain hits TikTok with a big fine over children’s privacy breaches

By our News Team | 2023

Social media platform did not abide by laws designed to keep children safe in the digital world, consumer watchdog says.

Social media platform TikTok has been fined around US$16-million by Britain’s data watchdog for illegally processing the data of 1.4-million children under 13 who were using its platform without parental consent.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the app had done “very little, if anything” to check who was using the platform and remove those who were underage users.

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Photo by Vanessa Loring from Pexels

“Our findings were that TikTok [was] not doing enough to prevent under-13s accessing their platform, they were not doing enough when they became aware of under-13s to get rid of them, and they were not doing enough to detect under-13s on there,” John Edwards, the Information Commissioner, told The Guardian newspaper.

Edwards added: “They assure us that they are now doing more.”

While the UK does not ban children using social media networks, it does require these platforms to obtain parental consent and not to use the data of children under 13.

Cbildren must be safe in the digital world

“There are laws in place to make sure our children are as safe in the digital world as they are in the physical world. TikTok did not abide by those laws,” Edwards said.

“As a consequence, an estimated 1-million under-13s were inappropriately granted access to the platform, with TikTok collecting and using their personal data. That means that their data may have been used to track them and profile them, potentially delivering harmful, inappropriate content at their very next scroll.”

In 2019, TikTok was fined in the United States for similar practices, while in 2020 it was fined in South Korea for mishandling children’s data.

Meanwhile, Australia has become the latest country to ban TikTok from being installed and used on any government-issued electronic devices. 

The reason given is that the Chinese government could use the devices for spying purposes. While TikTok is a private Chinese-owned company, the country’s laws require such companies to assist the nation’s intelligence services on request.

Countries that have already implemented a similar ban include the United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand. The US is currently considering a total ban on TikTok usage within the country. There is also concern within the EU.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.