Ireland Hits TikTok with a hefty fine of more than $360 million for its failure to adequately safeguard children’s privacy. This marks the first instance of TikTok penalized under Europe’s strict data privacy laws. The Data Protection Commission of Ireland imposed the substantial fine on the social media giant.
The investigation conducted by the Irish Commission revealed that TikTok’s default settings automatically set minors’ accounts to “public” when they sign up, allowing anyone to view and comment on their videos. This default setting posed a significant risk to children under the age of 13 who gained unauthorized access to the platform.
Furthermore, the Commission found that TikTok’s “family pairing” feature lacked the necessary strictness to prevent adults from enabling direct messaging without the consent of 16- and 17-year-old users.
Although TikTok has contested the fine and issued a statement opposing it, the Irish Commission maintains that the social media platform violated its privacy regulations. TikTok argued that the Commission criticized features that part of the platform three and a half years ago, emphasizing that these features had altered before the Commission initiated its investigation.
It’s worth noting that the Irish Data Protection Commission launched its investigation into TikTok’s data protection practices in September 2021. TikTok stated in its defense that it had already made user accounts private by default for those under the age of 16 and had disabled direct messaging for users aged 13 to 15.
Additionally, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission is conducting another inquiry into TikTok, examining how well the platform protects users’ personal data under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
This substantial fine against TikTok is in line with recent actions by the Irish Commission, which has also imposed fines on other tech companies, including Meta and its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp, over the past year.