TikTok could face a £27 million fine after an ICO investigation found that the company may have breached UK data protection law, failing to protect children’s privacy when using the TikTok platform.
A “notice of intent,” which is a legal document that comes before a possible fine, has been given by the ICO to TikTok Inc. and TikTok Information Technologies UK Limited (collectively, “TikTok”).
The notice outlines the ICO’s preliminary conclusion that between May 2018 and July 2020, TikTok violated UK data protection law.
The ICO investigation found the company may have:
- processed the data of children under the age of 13 without appropriate parental consent,
- failed to provide proper information to its users in a concise, transparent and easily understood way, and
- processed special category data, without legal grounds to do so.
The conclusions in the notice made by the Commissioner are preliminary. At this point, it should not be assumed that there has been a data protection legislation violation or that a fine would be eventually issued. Before making a choice, we shall carefully evaluate any arguments TikTok may make.
“We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with proper data privacy protections. Companies providing digital services have a legal duty to put those protections in place, but our provisional view is that TikTok fell short of meeting that requirement.
“I’ve been clear that our work to better protect children online involves working with organizations but will also involve enforcement action where necessary. In addition to this, we are currently looking into how over 50 different online services are conforming with the Children’s code and have six ongoing investigations looking into companies providing digital services who haven’t, in our initial view, taken their responsibilities around child safety seriously enough.”
John Edwards, Information Commissioner.