The UK’s data authority has fined TikTok £12.7 million for failing to protect children’s privacy.
Up to 1.4 million UK youngsters under the age of 13 were reportedly permitted to use TikTok in 2020.
According to an inquiry by the Information Commissioner’s Office, the video-sharing website exploited the data of children of this age without getting permission from their parents (ICO).
To prevent access by those under the age of 13, TikTok claimed to have “spent heavily.”
Although TikTok established 13 as the minimum age to register an account, the ICO said that numerous people were still able to access the website.
It said that information about minors may have been used to follow and profile them and possibly show them offensive or inappropriate content.
According to information commissioner John Edwards, legislation are in place to ensure that children are just as safe online as they are offline.
He stated that TikTok disregarded those rules.
“As a consequence, an estimated one million under-13s were inappropriately granted access to the platform, with TikTok collecting and using their personal data.
“TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better. Our £12.7m fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had.”
He then admitted to BBC News that TikTok had “taken no steps” to secure parental permission.
“When you sign up you can be targeted for advertising, you can be profiled, your data contributes to an algorithm which feeds content,” he said.
“If you’ve been looking at content which is not appropriate for your age, that can get more and more extreme.
“It can be quite harmful for people who are not old enough to fully appreciate the implications and to make appropriate choices.”
It is one of the highest fines the ICO has apparently ever imposed.