Science & Technology

Irish Regulators Fine TikTok

The Irish regulators, as part of the proceedings on the fact of TikTok’s involvement in the use of practices that violate the norms of ensuring the confidentiality of information of underage users of social networks and apps, decided to apply the measure of influence in the form of a fine in the amount of €345 million to this virtual platform, which is part of the ownership structure of the Chinese company ByteDance.

Irish Regulators Fine TikTok

The proceedings began after the authorities with the authority to initiate such procedural actions received a complaint in 2020 about the methods used by this app for creating and publishing short videos as part of the processing of personal data of persons under the age of majority. Particular attention in the context of claims regarding the virtual platform was paid to the practice of age verification and privacy settings.

The financial content of the measures taken by the Irish regulators is one of the largest fines TikTok has ever faced. A representative of the social interaction platform in the digital space said that the company respects this decision, but does not agree with it, separately noting that the brand considers the amount of material punishment excessively large.

Also, TikTok’s officially designated position regarding the fine of the Irish regulators contains a statement that those functions and settings that were complained about were integrated into the application three years ago, and have since been corrected. The company pays special attention to the fact that changes to the functional infrastructure of the virtual platform were made before the investigation began. As part of the correction of the shortcomings made in 2020, the brand, for example, by default granted the status of private accounts to all users whose age is less than 16 years.

Also, by the end of September, TikTok will introduce a new practice, under which all accounts of 16- and 17-year-olds will be marked as closed by default.

The decision on the fine was made by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) in accordance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Privacy Act. GDPR establishes the regulatory framework that companies must comply with during the processing of confidential information.

The DPC stated that, following the results of the investigation, an insufficient level of transparency on the part of TikTok regarding underage users was recorded. In this case, the claims relate to privacy settings. The regulator also studied the practice of processing the personal data of children interacting with this virtual platform.

Professor Sonia Livingstone, who studies digital rights and children’s experiences at the London School of Economics and Political Science, welcomed the DPC’s decision. In a comment to the media, she stated that children want to be participants in the virtual world without being manipulated and becoming objects targeted by various exploitative practices. According to her, this dogma of presence in the digital dimension means that platforms should introduce transparent methods of data processing and treat these arrays of information fairly since privacy is a child’s right.

An investigation is also ongoing into TikTok’s possible involvement in the transfer of data from the EU to China.

The fine, which was decided by the Irish regulators, is a sensitive measure, but the European practice of regulating the activities of technology companies and social networks has examples of tougher penalties in the material sense. One such example is Meta’s commitment to pay €1.2 billion for the improper handling of personal data when they are exchanged between Europe and the United States. The tech giant faced this fine in May of this year.

The Irish fine against TikTok is the most sensitive measure, which is a heavier financial burden than the decision of the British data watchdog, adopted in April 2023, that the company should pay €14.7 million for the fact that this platform could be used by children under the age of 13.

As we have reported earlier, New York City Bans TikTok on Government Devices.

Serhii Mikhailov

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Serhii’s track record of study and work spans six years at the Faculty of Philology and eight years in the media, during which he has developed a deep understanding of various aspects of the industry and honed his writing skills; his areas of expertise include fintech, payments, cryptocurrency, and financial services, and he is constantly keeping a close eye on the latest developments and innovations in these fields, as he believes that they will have a significant impact on the future direction of the economy as a whole.