TikTok, the popular video platform owned by ByteDance, is taking a stand against a hefty €345 million data privacy fine and a compliance order imposed by European regulators over the mishandling of private information belonging to its teenage users.
The company has officially filed an appeal with the European Union’s General Court, seeking to overturn the substantial fine and contesting an order issued by its lead data regulator in Ireland, focusing on what regulators describe as “deceptive or manipulative” practices that could potentially jeopardize user privacy.
The Irish Data Protection Commission had imposed a fine on TikTok in September 2023, following an extensive investigation that revealed the platform’s failure to adequately safeguard young users from unnecessary data processing.
This particular violation pertained to data processing methods concerning minors aged between 13 and 17 during a five-month period from July 2020 to December 31, 2020. It’s worth noting that the Irish data watchdog holds jurisdiction over TikTok due to the platform’s European headquarters being located in Dublin. However, because the alleged data privacy infringement extended across the entire European Union, the European Data Protection Board, comprised of representatives from 30 European countries, had to grant approval for the final decision.
Of notable concern to the European Data Protection Board was TikTok’s encouragement of children to create public accounts and its default setting of making their videos publicly accessible online.
This fine and compliance order are part of a broader effort aimed at intensifying scrutiny of child safety measures and data privacy breaches within social media companies, including TikTok, Meta, and Elon Musk’s X, as well as tackling the proliferation of disinformation.