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Child Online Protection: TikTok fined $370m for mishandling children’s data

*Ireland’s Data Protection Commission has fined the Chinese-owned TikTok whopping $370 million for  breaching child online protection and privacy laws regarding the processing of children’s data in the European Union

*Technology firm states why it disagrees with regulator’s penalty

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

TikTok, one of the leading social media platforms with a slant for short videos and considerable appeal for young consumers, has been fined 345 million Euros ($370 million) for breaching privacy laws regarding the processing of children’s data in the European Union (EU).

ConsumerConnect learnt the Chinese-owned short-video platform, which has grown rapidly among teenagers worldwide in recent years, breached several EU privacy laws between July 31, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) in a statement, said it was the first time the lead regulator in the EU would reprimand  ByteDance-owned TikTok  for many of the world’s top technology firms, due to the location of their regional headquarters in Ireland.

TikTok disagrees with regulator’s penalty: Spokesperson

A spokesperson for TikTok, last Friday, said it disagreed with the decision, particularly the size of the fine, CyberNews report said.

Besides, the tech company argued that most of the criticisms were no longer relevant as a result of measures introduced before the DPC’s probe began in September 2021.

However, the DPC said TikTok’s breaches included how in 2020, accounts for users under the age of 16 were set to “public” by default and that TikTok did not verify whether a user was actually a child user’s parent or guardian when linked through the “family pairing” feature.

It was gathered that TikTok added tougher parental controls to family pairing November 2020, and changed the default setting for all registered users under the age of 16 to “private” January 2021.

TikTok also disclosed its plans to further update the firm’s privacy materials to make the differences between public and private accounts clearer.

It said that a private account would be pre-selected for new 16-17-year-old users when they register for the app from later September 2023.

Meanwhile, the Ireland’s regulatory agency has given TikTok three months to bring all its processing into compliance where infringements were found, report said.

It has a second probe open into the transferring by TikTok of personal data to China and whether it complies with EU data law when moving personal data to countries outside the bloc.

In March, the DPC said it was preparing a preliminary draft decision into that investigation.

Under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), introduced in 2018, the lead regulator for any given company can impose fines of up to 4 percent of the company’s global revenue.

The DPC has also hit other global technology giants with big fines, including a combined 2.5 billion Euros levied on Meta, the parent company of Facebook.

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