TikTok fined £12.7m for misusing children's data and allowing under-13s to create accounts

4 April 2023, 11:47 | Updated: 4 April 2023, 11:49

TikTok allowed 1.4 million UK children under 13 to create accounts in 2020
TikTok allowed 1.4 million UK children under 13 to create accounts in 2020. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

TikTok has been fined £12.7 million for a number of data protection law breaches, including failing to use children's personal data lawfully, the Information Commissioner's Office said.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) estimates that TikTok allowed up to 1.4 million UK children under 13 to use its platform in 2020 - in breach of its own rules that bar children from creating an account.

Information commissioner John Edwards said: "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.

"As a consequence, an estimated one million under 13s were inappropriately granted access to the platform, with TikTok collecting and using their personal data. That means that their data may have been used to track them and profile them, potentially delivering harmful, inappropriate content at their very next scroll.

Read more: Donald Trump prepares for historic court appearance as he cries 'witch hunt'

Read more: Baby wipes could be banned under government plans to tackle water pollution

"TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better. Our £12.7m fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had."

TikTok had faced a fine from the Information Commissioner's Office of £27 million, but the final total has been reduced to £12.7 million.

The ICO said more than one million children under 13 were using TikTok in 2020, despite its terms of use not allowing that.

It added that personal data belonging to those children was used without parental consent and that the company did not do enough to check who was using the social media app and take enough action to remove the underage children that were.