The data regulator authority in Britain announced on Tuesday that it has fined TikTok £12.7 million ($15.9 million) for breaking its regulations by allowing up to 1.4 million children under 13 to use its social media site.
The Chinese-owned company allegedly violated UK legislation by failing to seek parental or guardian permission before using the children’s data after they had already created accounts despite being too young, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
TikTok contested the ICO’s conclusion, which only made its problems worse as a wave of Western nations banned the platform’s use on official devices out of concern that Beijing may gain access to the data.
“We will continue to review the decision and are considering the next steps,” the company said in a statement.
“We invest heavily to help keep under 13s off the platform and our 40,000-strong safety team works around the clock to help keep the platform safe for our community,” it said.
Despite this, TikTok applauded the ICO’s decision to reduce the sentence from £27 million, which the regulator had earlier threatened to impose.
The rules of service for the well-known video-sharing website prohibit the registration of anyone under the age of 13.
Nevertheless, according to the ICO, TikTok did not conduct sufficient checks to prevent that from happening in Britain, and as a result, up to 1.4 million kids could be impacted by it in 2020.
“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,” 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,” he said in a statement.
“TikTok did not abide by those laws.”