TikTok, the popular video-sharing platform owned by ByteDance Ltd, is taking a stand after being hit with a hefty €345mil data privacy fine by European regulators. The fine was imposed due to the company’s alleged failure to protect the private data of its teenage users. Not taking this lying down, TikTok has lodged an appeal in the European Union’s General Court against the penalty. They’re also contesting a local order by their lead data regulator in Ireland, which accuses them of employing “deceptive or manipulative” practices that could compromise privacy.
This issue has put TikTok under the microscope, specifically their child safeguarding practices. The platform, known for its viral dance challenges, boasts more than one billion users worldwide. Just last week, TikTok joined the ranks of leading social media platforms like Meta Platforms Inc and Elon Musk’s X, all of which received warning letters from the EU. The message? Take immediate action to curb the spread of disinformation.
The Irish Data Protection Commission was the entity that fined TikTok in September. Their conclusion was that the app had not adequately protected minors against unnecessary data processing and lacked transparency. The investigation focused on a five-month period from July 2020 to December 31, 2020. The commission found that during this time, TikTok violated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules concerning children aged 13 to 17.
As per the GDPR, the Irish data watchdog is responsible for all investigations into TikTok, as the platform has its EU base in Dublin. However, since the alleged violation was EU-wide, the European Data Protection Board had to give the final decision. This board, made up of representatives from 30 European countries, expressed concerns about the way TikTok encourages children to create public accounts and defaults to making their posted videos public.