(Reuters) — Britain’s data watchdog said on Tuesday it fined TikTok 12.7 million pounds ($15.9 million) for breaching data protection laws, including by using personal data of children under 13 without parental consent.
The Information Commissioner’s Office estimated that TikTok allowed as many as 1.4 million UK children under 13 to use its platform in 2020, although it lists 13 as the minimum age to create an account.
The ICO said the data breach occurred between May 2018 and July 2020, with the Chinese-owned video app failing to do enough to check who was using the platform and remove underage children who were.
“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 follow those laws,”; said UK Information Commissioner John Edwards.
Children’s data may have been used to track and profile them, potentially presenting them with harmful or inappropriate content, he added.
A TikTok spokesman said the company disagreed with the ICO’s decision but was pleased the fine had been reduced from the possible £27m the ICO had indicated last year.
The ICO’s fine follows moves by Western governments and institutions in recent weeks, including the UK, to block the use of TikTok on official devices due to security concerns.