Europe fined TikTok $368 million : A big tech watchdog in Europe told TikTok to pay a €345 million ($368 million) fine because the app didn’t do enough to keep kids safe.
The Irish Data Protection Commission, which watches over TikTok’s actions in the European Union, said on Friday that the company had broken the EU’s main privacy law.
The DPC looked into TikTok and found that in the second half of 2020, the usual settings didn’t protect children’s accounts well enough. For example, it said that the usual setting for new children’s profiles was “public,” which meant that anyone on the internet could see them.
The regulator said that TikTok didn’t tell kids enough about these privacy risks and also used “dark patterns” to trick users into giving up more personal information.
The DPC said that a TikTok tool called “Family Pairing,” which was meant to be a parental control, did not require that an adult who was in charge of a child’s account be verified as the child’s real parent or guardian. This was another violation of EU privacy law. The oversight meant that, in theory, any adult could lessen the protections for a child’s privacy, the regulator said.
Family Pairing was added to TikTok in April 2020. It lets adults link their accounts with those of their children so they can control how much time their children spend on the app, block unwanted material, and limit direct messaging to children.
“No longer important.”
But in a blog post on Friday, the company said it “respectfully” disagreed with several parts of the decision.
“Most of the complaints about the decision are no longer valid because of the changes we made at the start of 2021,” wrote Elaine Fox, who is in charge of privacy for TikTok in Europe.
Fox said that one of the changes TikTok made at the start of 2021 was to make all 13–15-year-old users’ accounts secret by default for both new and old accounts. She also said that later this month, “we will begin rolling out a redesigned account registration flow for new 16- and 17-year-old users” that will have private settings by default.
TikTok did not say that Family Pairing would now check the link between an adult and a child. But the company said that over time, new choices and tools had made the feature better. It also said that none of the regulator’s results showed that the ways TikTok checks people’s ages broke EU privacy laws.
In April, TikTok was also fined in the United Kingdom for breaking data security laws in a number of ways, such as by misusing the personal information of children. Read also