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TikTok under investigation over children’s privacy

The famous music lip-sync app TikTok under investigation in the UK for how it manages the personal data and ensures the safety of children. The information commissioner Elizabeth Denham told the parliamentary committee that TikTok under investigation over children’s privacy has started in February after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged the app with $5.7 million fine for breaking the privacy of underage users.

Denham told the Guardian that the commission is examining how TikTok collects private data and concerns about the open messaging system, which may allow adult users to contact children. “We are looking at the transparency tools for children. We’re looking at the messaging system, which is completely open, we’re looking at the kind of videos that are collected and shared by children online. We do have an active investigation into TikTok right now, so watch this space,” she said.

The investigation will also examine if the popular app, owned by ByteDance, violates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires companies to put special protections in place for underage users and provide them with different services than adults.

In April, a BBC investigation found TikTok was failing to suspend the accounts of those sending sexual messages to minors on its platform.

The app has over 500 million monthly active users, and has proven particularly popular with teenagers.

TikTok may also be at risk of violating the European Union’s general data protection regulation (GDPR), which requires platforms to provide different services and different protections for minors. Companies can be fined up to EUR 20 million (RMB 155 million) or 4% of revenue, whichever is higher, for breaking GDPR rules.

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The UK investigation has been ongoing since February after the United States Federal Trade Commission slapped TikTok with a USD 5.7 million fine for illegally collecting data on users younger than 13 years old.

In a statement shared with TikTok said, “We are committed to protecting the safety and privacy of our user community. We comply with local laws and regulations and will provide relevant information in response to any inquiry. ”

In April, TikTok was suspended in India at the behest of the Madras High Court, which cited concerns over “inappropriate” content that was hosted on the platform, enabling “cultural degradation and pornography.” At the time, Apple and Google removed TikTok from their app stores following a request by the country’s IT ministry. The ban was lifted three weeks later after ByteDance pledged a USD 1 billion investment in the country.

In a statement, TikTok said: We cooperate with organizations such as the ICO to provide relevant information about our product to support their work. Ensuring data protection principles are upheld as a top priority for TikTok.”

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