Wednesday 20 October 2021

Dutch privacy watchdog fines TikTok €750,000 after privacy probe

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Dutch data protection authority DPA has imposed a fine of €750,000 on social media company TikTok for violating the privacy of young children.

The agency said it had decided to fine the popular Chinese company because the information provided by TikTok to Dutch users – many of whom are young children – when installing and using the app was in English and not, therefore, readily understandable.

‘By not offering their privacy statement in Dutch, TikTok failed to provide an adequate explanation of how the app collects, processes and uses personal data,’ the DPA said.

‘This is an infringement of privacy legislation, which is based on the principle that people must always be given a clear idea of what is being done with their personal data.’

The DPA launched its investigation into TikTok last year. Since then, the company has established formal operations in Ireland and this means the DPA is transferring some of the results of its investigation to the Irish Data Protection Commission for further action.

TikTok did implement a number of changes to make its app safer for children under the age of 16 last year, after the DPA informed the company about its findings. However, one remaining issue is that children can still pretend to be older by filling in a different age when creating their account. By doing so they put themselves at greater risk, the DPA said.

TikTok has lodged an objection to the fine.

Legal cases

TikTok is also facing two class action suits in the Netherlands. Consumers association Consumentenbond and the Take Back Your Privacy foundation are demanding the company pay all Dutch children who use the platform damages of around €1,000 for illegally collecting and trading in their private information.

In the second case, Dutch foundation SOMI said it is suing the Chinese owned video platform for failing to protect the safety of children around Europe and for and breaching European advertising and privacy rules. Some 64,000 parents have registered claims with non-profit market information foundation to a combined amount of €1.4bn.

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