Friday, June 14, 2024

TikTok hit with €345M fine for violating children’s privacy

Must read

The penalty comes amid high tensions between the European Union and China, following the EU’s announcement that it plans to probe Chinese state subsidies of electric cars. European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová is also set to visit China next Monday-Tuesday and meet Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing to discuss the two sides’ technology policies, amid growing concerns over Beijing’s data gathering and cyber espionage practices.

“Alone the fine of [€345 million] is a headline sanction to impose but reflects the extent to which the DPC identified child users were exposed to risk in particular arising from TikTok’s decision at the time to default child user accounts to public settings on registration,” said Helen Dixon, the Irish data protection commissioner, in a written statement.

The Irish privacy regulator said that, in the period from July to December 2020, TikTok had unlawfully made accounts of users aged 13 to 17 public by default, effectively making it possible for anyone to watch and comment on videos they posted. The company also did not appropriately assess the risks that users under the age of 13 could gain access to its platform. It also found that TikTok is still pushing teenagers joining the platform to make their accounts and videos public through manipulative pop-ups. The regulator ordered the firm to change these misleading designs, known as dark patterns, within the next three months.

Minors’ accounts could be paired up with unverified adult accounts during the second half of 2020. The authority said the video platform had also previously failed to explain to teenagers the consequences of making their content and accounts public.

“We respectfully disagree with the decision, particularly the level of the fine imposed,” said Morgan Evans, a TikTok spokesperson. “The [Data Protection Commission]’s criticisms are focused on features and settings that were in place three years ago, and that we made changes to well before the investigation even began, such as setting all under-16 accounts to private by default.”

TikTok added it will comply with the order to change misleading designs by extending such default-privacy settings to accounts of new users aged 16 and 17 later in September. It will also roll out in the next three months changes to the pop-up young users get when they first post a video.

Latest article