Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has fined video-sharing platform TikTok €345 million for breaches relating to the processing of children’s data, reports RTE.
This follows an investigation that began in September 2021 and focused on the period July to December 2020.
The investigation examined some of TikTok’s settings for child users.
It also looked at the processing of personal data of children under 13 as part of the registration process, in particular for age verification purposes.
Investigation revealed that sub-accounts were automatically set to public rather than private due to the “public default” setting.
A feature called “family pairing” means that a child’s account can be “paired” with an unverified user who is not the child, but TikTok has not verified whether that user is actually the child’s parent or guardian.
Non-child users had the option to enable direct messaging for children over 16, making the feature less harsh on children.
The DPC found that TikTok failed to adequately address the risks to children under 13 who access its platform through default account settings that allow them to view social media content posted by those users, on or off TikTok.
“The decision records that, because of this, TikTok did not implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure and to be able to demonstrate that the foregoing processing was performed in accordance with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation),” the DPC found, reports RTE.
TikTok disagreed with the ruling and stated that the features in question had already been modified.
“We respectfully disagree with the decision, particularly the level of the fine imposed,” a TikTok spokesperson said reports RTE.
“The DPC’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,” the company said, reports RTE.
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