TikTok receives record fine for flouting child privacy rules

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

Enormously popular video-sharing social media app TikTok, which in 2018 overtook Instagram in terms of downloads, has been landed with a fine of $5.7 million for dangerous breaches in privacy regarding children.

TikTok, which allows users to upload short videos of themselves, often lipsyncing over popular songs or video tracks, was found to have been gathering the personal details of under-13s - such as locations, names and contact information. The fine was brought by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which called the practice of collecting this data "disturbing".

It is a record sum to be invoked and has led to TikTok releasing a child-friendly version of its app more suited to those under 13. In this version there is no chance to share, comment or message.

As well as allegedly ignoring requests from parents to delete the personal data it held on specific children, TikTok had been taking data during registration - which according to the US's Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 is illegal to do for those under 13 unless they have parental permission.