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TikTok faces $368 million fine for child privacy violations

TikTok has been hit with a staggering €345 million ($368 million) fine by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), a key European technology watchdog. The decision comes after the DPC’s scrutiny revealed that the social media giant had shortcomings in its safeguards for young users within the European Union.

During 2020, an examination by the DPC highlighted several of TikTok’s problematic practices. In particular, they found that when children created new accounts, they were automatically set to public, exposing their content to the wider internet. Alongside this, TikTok was found to be subtly guiding users, through specific design choices, to share more personal data than they might be aware of.

Also, the family bonding feature, which TikTok launched in April 2020, came under the scanner. Intended as a way for adults to manage and monitor children’s accounts, it had no mechanism to confirm the actual relationship between the adult and the child, leading to potential privacy violations.

Reacting to the DPC’s findings and subsequent fine, TikTok expressed reservations about aspects of the decision. Elaine Fox, head of privacy issues for TikTok in Europe, noted in a blog post that several of the issues raised were already addressed in 2021, notably by adjusting account settings for 13- to 15-year-olds. He also presented plans to renew the registration. process for 16- and 17-year-olds, emphasizing enhanced privacy.

While the company did not confirm changes to the Family Matching feature in terms of relationship verification, it did highlight the continuous improvements made to the feature since its introduction. TikTok also highlighted that, according to the DPC, its methods of verifying the age of users were in line with EU privacy requirements.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t TikTok’s first brush with regulatory trouble. Earlier this year, they suffered backlash in the UK due to data protection breaches, particularly regarding the use of children’s data.

This article is sourced from and written by AI.

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