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Italy Fines TikTok for Failing to Protect Minors

Italy Fines TikTok for Failing to Protect Minors

The European Union has imposed a significant fine on TikTok, marking a decisive move to ensure the safety and privacy of minors online. The fine addresses concerns over TikTok’s handling of children’s data and its failure to implement effective safeguards.

Key Highlights:

  • TikTok has been fined €345 million ($368 million) by the European Union for breaches related to child data protection.
  • The fine follows a two-year investigation by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), focusing on TikTok’s compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) concerning users under 18.
  • Criticisms include TikTok’s default public settings for new accounts, inadequate verification of parent or guardian status in “family pairing” mode, and encouragement of privacy-intrusive settings.
  • TikTok has expressed disagreement with the decision and the imposed fine, highlighting changes made to its platform settings prior to the investigation’s commencement.
  • The investigation also scrutinized TikTok’s age verification methods and transparency towards child users about the default settings.

In-Depth Analysis:

TikTok’s platform settings during the period under review allowed child users’ accounts to be public by default, making their content accessible to anyone on or off the platform. This default setting also enabled features like comments, “Duet,” and “Stitch” without additional privacy measures. The “Family Pairing” feature, intended to allow parents to monitor their children’s accounts, did not verify the relationship between the child and the paired adult user, compromising the intended safety mechanisms.

In response to the ruling, TikTok has stated its disagreement, particularly with the fine’s magnitude, arguing that the DPC’s criticisms pertain to outdated features and settings. TikTok has pointed out that significant changes were made to enhance safety and privacy, especially for users under 16, including making accounts private by default and disabling direct messaging for users aged 13 to 15.

This decision by the EU highlights the ongoing efforts to protect minors online and emphasizes the need for social media platforms to prioritize user safety, especially for children. The fine against TikTok follows similar actions taken against other tech giants, underscoring the EU’s commitment to strict enforcement of data protection laws.