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Updated Apr 4, 2023, 8:06am EDT
UK

TikTok fined $15.9M by UK regulators, the latest in a string of legal cases

TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
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The News

British regulators fined TikTok £12.7 million ($15.9 million) for misusing children’s data, the latest move against the Chinese social media titan which is also facing lawsuits in the U.S. and Europe.

TikTok “did not do enough” to ensure its users were over the age of 13 and remove those that were underage, the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office said on Tuesday. Under British law, organizations must obtain parental consent if collecting data on children under 13 .

TikTok said it disagrees with the ICO’s decision, the BBC reported.

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The View From Arkansas

Last month, the U.S. state of Arkansas sued TikTok, its parent company ByteDance, and Facebook parent company Meta, accusing the social media sites of privacy breaches and being harmful to users‘ mental health.

The suits are seeking potentially billions of dollars in fines, and allege the three companies violated the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

TikTok and ByteDance were accused of poor content moderation, and the suit repeats persistent allegations that the video-sharing app is a threat to U.S. national security.

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The View From Indiana

Like other legal actions against the app, a suit filed by the U.S. state of Indiana late last year alleges that TikTok exposes children to age-inappropriate content, including sex and illicit drug use.

In a statement, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican, called the app a “malicious and menacing threat.”

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The View From Europe

Former Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield filed a suit against TikTok on behalf of children in the U.K and EU in 2021. That lawsuit alleges that data is collected from children, including their phone numbers, without appropriate transparency or requests for consent.

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TikTok denied the allegations at the time, telling the BBC in a statement that it would “vigorously defend the action.”

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Step Back

Last month, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified at a U.S. congressional hearing for more than five hours, grilled by lawmakers about his platform’s ties to its parent company and China.

There, Chew attempted to defend TikTok’s privacy protocols, telling the panel “we know we have a responsibility to protect [users].”

He was met with widespread disdain for the app from both Democrats and Republicans.

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Notable

  • TikTok may be facing a ban in the U.S. — but that would be a devastating blow for the app’s content creators, some of whom have millions of followers based in America. In Rest of World, Andrew Deck explores the ramifications of a ban for foreign creators whose livelihoods are tied to the app.
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