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TikTok fined Sh 1.8 billion in data breach involving minors

Giant social media platform TikTok has been slapped with Sh 1.8 billion (12.7 million Euros) fine for a breach of data involving accounts held by minors in the United Kingdom.

According to Sky News, the Information Commissioner’s Office fined the Chinese-owned application for using the personal data of children aged 13 and below without their parent’s consent.

The social media app was also accused of not carrying out enough checks to determine who was opening accounts on their platforms and removing accounts run by minors already using TikTok. In turn, the social media app said it disagreed with the ICO’s fines in relation to breaching their data protection law, saying it was going to review the decision and determine what steps it intended on taking next.

In late March 2023, TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Chew appeared before the United States of America’s Congress where he was grilled regarding TikTok’s use of registered users as well as their data protection policies. The App was accused of sharing users’ data with third parties and accessing their online activities beyond TikTok when requesting for certain permissions. Such instances included TikTok operating a user’s account on another social media platform if a person gave it permissions without reading through what was being requested.

American law makers had been calling for the banning of the app on American soil where over 150 million users downloaded the social media app. However, Mr Chew said TikTok was an independent company and the Chinese government had no control over it. He also affirmed that TikTok was not available on mainland China but its mother company, ByteDance, was based in the country. According to CNN, the Chinese government is known for having a say over businesses and the American politicians believed that via ByteDance, the Chinese government had unobstructed access to users’ data across the world.

Mr Chew spent majority of his first appearance before the Congress defending the app against accusations of being a spy tool for the Chinese government; and insisted that its practices were the same as those founded and based in America.

In relation to American children using the app, American leaders had a concern about the impact of TikTok on children’s lives, saying that TikTok’s algorithms recommended videos to pre-teens and teens that cause them emotional distress including those that depicted suicide, self-harm and eating disorders. CNN further reported that TikTok said they had put in place measures to provide additional safeguards for minors, including a 60-minute default time limit for those under the age of 18- to protect them from content that negatively harmed them.

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