The UK data regulator has fined TikTok £12.7 million ($15.9 million) for a number of breaches of data protection law, including misusing children’s personal data.
The Information Commissioner’s Office estimates that, in 2020, TikTok allowed more than 1 million UK children under 13 to use its platform in violation of its own rules.
The ICO said Tuesday that TikTok had not done enough to check who was using its platform, failed to take action to remove underage children and hadn’t provided proper information to users about how their data was being collected and used. The fine applies to rule breaches between May 2018 and July 2020.
John Edwards, the UK Information Commissioner, said: “There are laws in place to make sure your children are as safe in the digital world as they are in the physical world. TikTok did not abide by those laws.”
He added: “TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better.”
A spokesperson for TikTok told CNN that the company “invest[s] heavily to help keep under 13s off the platform” and that it disagreed with the ICO’s decision.
“Our 40,000-strong safety team works around the clock to help keep the platform safe for our community,” the spokesperson said.
The fine comes as a string of Western countries turn their back on the Chinese-owned video streaming platform.
Australia will ban the use of TikTok on government devices “as soon as practicable,” the country’s attorney-general announced earlier on Tuesday, citing security concerns.
The United States, Britain and Canada have all announced similar bans, while in New Zealand the app was due to be removed from all devices with access to the country’s parliament by the end of March.