TikTok fined for violating privacy of young children

TikTok fined for violating privacy of young children

TikTok has violated the privacy of young children, says Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) that is fining the company Euro 750 000. The European Commission and consumer organisations have since some time also a dialogue ongoing with TikTok with a special focus on hidden marketing and aggressive advertising techniques targeted at children.

“The information provided by TikTok to Dutch users – many of whom are young children – when installing and using the app was in English and thus not readily understandable. By not offering their privacy statement in Dutch, TikTok failed to provide an adequate explanation of how the app collects, processes and uses personal data”, the authority said.

“This is an infringement of privacy legislation, which is based on the principle that people must always be given a clear idea of what is being done with their personal data.”

DPA’s Deputy Chair Monique Verdier said that the results of the authority’s investigation will be transferred to the Irish Data Protection Commission as TikTok now has  European headquarters in Ireland.

In early October of last year, the DPA submitted a report of the findings of its investigation to TikTok. TikTok then implemented a number of changes to make its app safer for children under the age of 16.

However, the authority says one remaining issue is that children can still pretend to be older by filling in a different age when creating their account. By doing so they put themselves at greater risk.

TikTok has lodged an objection to the fine.

The European Commission and consumer authorities have earlier started “a formal dialogue” with TikTok about its commercial practices and policy. The initiative comes after European consumer organisations said the company violates EU consumer rights.

“Areas of specific concern include hidden marketing, aggressive advertising techniques targeted at children and certain contractual terms in TikTok’s policies that could be considered misleading and confusing”, the commission said.

“The current pandemic has further accelerated digitalisation. This has brought new opportunities but it has also created new risks, in particular for vulnerable consumers, said Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders.

“In the European Union, it is prohibited to target children and minors with disguised advertising such as banners in videos. The dialogue we are launching today should support TikTok in complying with EU rules to protect consumers.”

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