TikTok has 28 days to submit arguments in an appeal against the amount of the fine.
The UK’s data watchdog fined TikTok £12.7 million for failing to protect children’s privacy after up to 1.4 million UK children under the age of 13 were reportedly permitted to use TikTok in 2020.
According to an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the video-sharing website used the data of children of this age without getting permission from their parents.
To prevent access by those under the age of 13, TikTok claimed to have “invested heavily.”
Although TikTok set 13 as the minimum age to create an account, the ICO claimed that many users were still able to access the website.
It also claimed that information about children may have been used to track and profile them and possibly show them offensive or inappropriate content.
“There are laws in place to make sure our children are as safe in the digital world as they are in the physical world. TikTok did not abide by those laws,” UK Information Commissioner John Edwards said, as reported by the BBC.
“As a consequence, an estimated one million under-13s were inappropriately granted access to the platform, with TikTok collecting and using their personal data,” he added.
“TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better. Our £12.7m fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had.”
It is one of the largest fines the ICO has issued.
However, a TikTok spokesperson assured BBC that a “40,000-strong safety team works around the clock to help keep the platform safe for our community.
“While we disagree with the ICO’s decision, which relates to May 2018 – July 2020, we are pleased that the fine announced today has been reduced to under half the amount proposed last year. We will continue to review the decision and are considering next steps.”
The watchdog had previously sent TikTok a “notice of intent”, a warning before imposing a possible fine, stating that it could be subject to a £27 million fine for these violations.
TikTok has 28 days to submit arguments in an appeal against the amount of the fine. From the time the regulator issues the notice of a proposed fine until it renders its decision, it has a maximum of 16 weeks.
Fines paid to the ICO are returned to the UK’s Treasury.