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TikTok, Other Mobile Apps Violate Privacy Regulations

App developers are ignoring laws and guidelines regulating data protection measures aimed at minors, putting their monetization plans in jeopardy and risking user trust.

The popular and increasingly controversial social media app TikTok must pay a fine of 12.7 million pounds (equivalent to around $16 million) in the UK for disregarding data protection for children.

The British data protection authority Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) announced this week that TikTok had allowed up to 1.4 million children under the age of 13 in the country to open accounts in 2020, despite the app's own rules prohibiting it.

Children's personal data had also been used without parental consent, it said, despite UK law requiring it.

"TikTok also failed to implement adequate controls to identify and remove underage children from its platform," an ICO statement added.

While some senior TikTok executives had raised concerns internally, the company had not responded appropriately, the ICO said.

Meanwhile, a new report from Pixalate analyzing the privacy policy of every US-registered child-directed app in the Apple App Store found that the majority (54%) of those apps appear to violate the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

COPPA is a US federal law enacted in 1998 to protect the privacy of children under the age of 13 on the Internet. COPPA applies to websites and online services that collect personal information from children under the age of 13, such as their name, address, email address, phone number, and other identifiable information.

They must also post a clear and comprehensive privacy policy on their website or online service and provide parents with the option to review and delete their children's personal information.

Privacy for Kids

Due to skyrocketing online activity by children and teens, protecting their privacy and security online has become one of the most discussed topics in 2023.

The Biden administration has called on Congress to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, and demand technology companies stop collecting personal data on children.

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