TikTok is feeling the heat after being slapped with a whopping fine of 345 million euros by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC). The reason? TikTok’s not-so-great handling of children’s data on its platform. This hefty penalty was dropped on TikTok’s doorstep thanks to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and it’s all because of how TikTok treated the personal data of its young users.
The DPC found eight instances where TikTok broke the GDPR rules. They also had a close look at how transparent the platform was with kids, especially when it came to the default settings. Now, the Irish data watchdog has ordered to fix its data-handling ways within just three months to play by the rules.
In response, TikTok isn’t exactly doing a happy dance. They have voiced their disagreement with the fine and how big it is. They stated to respectfully disagree with the decision, particularly the level of the fine imposed.
But TikTok is quick to point out that most of the problems the DPC pointed fingers at are from three years ago. They claim they have already tackled many of these issues, like setting all accounts of users under 16 to private as a default setting.
Elaine Fox, the boss of privacy at TikTok in Europe, wants everyone to know that they have been trying to make TikTok safer even before the DPC started snooping around. They have already made changes like setting accounts of users aged 13-15 to private by default.
DPC work focused on a short period of time from July 31, 2020, to December 31, 2020. During this period, they looked into how the platform was following the GDPR rules when dealing with personal data from the little ones. They dug into settings like what’s public by default and features like “Family Pairing.” They even checked out how it verifies users’ ages during the signup process.