TikTok doesn’t just face financial penalties in the US for alleged violations of children’s privacy. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned TikTok which could face a £27 million (about $29.2 million) fine after the watchdog determined the social network may have breached data protection law by “failing to protect” children’s privacy between May 2018 and July 2020. The company may have handled the data of children under the age of 13 without parental consent, processed “special category” data (such as ethnicity, sexual orientation, or health) without legal basis, and did not they offered the necessary information to users in a “concise, transparent and easy to understand” way. .

ICO began investigating TikTok in February 2019, shortly after the US Federal Trade Commission fined the social media heavyweight $5.7 million for reported child privacy violations. At the time, the UK supervisor was concerned about both TikTok’s “fully open” direct messaging and its transparency tools. Sexual predators were found messaging users as young as eight, and it was relatively easy for children to circumvent the app’s age barrier.

The bureau stressed that these were preliminary findings and that there was no definitive conclusion that TikTok broke the law or will pay a fine. ICO added that it would “carefully consider” TikTok’s stance before making a final decision. We have asked the company for comment and will let you know if we receive a response.

There is mounting pressure on TikTok to protect children. In the US, members of Congress and state attorneys general are questioning TikTok about potential harms to child users, including attempts to keep them engrossed in using the app. A UK fine may not be the end of the company’s troubles, at least not until politicians and regulators are convinced it is keeping young people safe.

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