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Ignoring youth protection: EU imposes $1 million fine on TikTok

Ignoring youth protection: EU imposes $1 million fine on TikTok

This specifically concerns some platform settings and age verification upon registration. Among other things, the default was that posts such as videos from users between the ages of 13 and 17 could be published virtually for everyone to see.

Registration on the platform is actually only allowed for those aged 13 and over, but many young people can still create an account. The commenting function on profiles was also available as a default for all other users. The Family Connection setting, through which a minor’s TikTok account can be linked to a parent’s account, also causes problems. TikTok does not check if the linked account actually belongs to a relative or guardian.

In its response, TikTok emphasized that the investigation’s findings primarily relate to settings that were valid three years ago: “Most of these findings are no longer relevant due to the procedures we put in place before the investigation began.”

TikTok must also comply with the General Data Protection Regulation

This means that all accounts for users under the age of 16 are set to private by default. In response to a question from Agence France-Presse, a company spokesperson said that TikTok did not agree to the penalty, especially with the amount of the fine. Since the beginning of this year, 17 million accounts have been deleted for allegedly belonging to children under the age of 13. TikTok checks how to follow.

In addition to the fine, TikTok was required to make its data processing compliant with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) within three months. A record fine under the GDPR of €1.2 billion was imposed on Facebook’s Meta group in May.

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Investigations have been ongoing for two years

The DPC actually launched an investigation against TikTok in September 2021. It is responsible because TikTok’s European headquarters are located in Ireland. In April, the British data protection authority ICO already imposed a £12.7 million (€14.78 million) fine on TikTok. The authority accused TikTok of allowing up to 1.4 million children under the age of 13 to register in 2020 and using their data without parental permission.

In the Netherlands, TikTok had to pay 750,000 euros in 2021 due to data protection violations related to minors, and the United States imposed a fine of $5.7 million (5.3 million euros) in 2019 after similar allegations.

TikTok currently has more than 130 million users in the European Union. Like many online companies, the social media service is under increasing pressure due to data protection concerns in the European Union. In addition, there are concerns that Chinese authorities could access user data.

Several new data centers are being planned in Europe

TikTok therefore announced that it would store European user data in the European Union in the future and opened its first data center in Dublin at the beginning of September. Another data center in Ireland and another in Norway are under construction.

By the end of 2024, European user data will be transferred there and stored there by default. TikTok wants to gain Europe’s trust with a plan called “Project Clover.” The video application has a difficult political position in the West because it is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

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The European Commission and several European governments, including Austria, have banned the use of the app on their employees’ work mobile phones. Through “Project Clover”, TikTok wants to ensure that access to European users’ personal data is strictly regulated and transparent.