TikTok could face a $29 million lawsuit for failing to protect children’s data on the platform, South China Morning Post reported.

Trump approves Oracle and Walmart acquisition of TikTok

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BERLIN, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 21: A young man with a smartphone casts a shadow as he walks past an advertisement for the social media company TikTok on September 21, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. US President Donald Trump has tentatively authorized Oracle, Walmart and other investors to acquire TikTok and create a new US-based company called TikTok Global.

A “letter of intent” was issued by The Information Commissioner’s Office that informed TikTok of its data breach in the United Kingdom between May 2018 and July 2020. This includes the date the investigation began, which is in 2019.

TikTok has 1 billion active users worldwide. According to Ofcom, 44% of 8-12 year olds in the UK have used the application.

ICO . Findings

According to the ICO, TikTok processed the data of 13-year-olds without their parents’ consent. Along with this is the lack of good information for many younger users that they can easily understand.

The company also does not process “special category data” such as information about a person’s race or ethnicity without legal permission.

In a statement posted on the ICO website, Information Commissioner John Edwards said: “We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with the right data privacy protections, companies providing digital services have a legal obligation to provide that protection instead, but our preliminary opinion is that TikTok did not meet that requirement.”

BBC stated that all findings are preliminary and no decisions have been made at this time. ICO can only impose a fine worth 4% of TikTok’s annual worldwide revenue based on the EU’s GDPR.

TikTok has thirty days to respond with the decision, which can be changed if the company makes a compelling case to defend the allegations. This can lead to a reduction of the fine or the waiver of a fine.

TikTok’s response

CNBC received a statement from a TikTok spokesperson saying the company disagrees with the ICO fine and will respond with a formal statement.

The spokesperson added: “While we respect the ICO’s role in protecting privacy in the UK, we disagree with the preliminary views and intend to formally respond to the ICO in due course.”

TikTok was also fined $5.7 million last year from the Federal Trade Commission and the South Korean Communications Commission for $100,000, both for the same reasons.

Also read: TikTok denies data breach after hackers claim to obtain user data

ICO also said 50 other different online platforms are currently wary of handling child data in general. There are currently six investigations underway at the companies that “failed to take responsibility for protecting the safety of children”.

Related article: Report finds TikTok shows 20% wrong information on search: no fact-checking?

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Written by Inno Flores

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