Global video-sharing site TikTok has been fined £12.7m by the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for allowing up to 1.4 million UK children under 13 years old to use the platform in 2020, according to BBC News.
The UK watchdog said in its investigation that TikTok used the data of children without their parents' consent and "did not do enough" to check who was using their platform and to remove the underage children that were. TikTok stated they have "invested heavily" to stop children under 13 from accessing the site, and a TikTok spokesperson told the BBC "our 40,000-strong safety team works around the clock to help keep the platform safe for our community." The fine is one of the largest the ICO has ever issued.
Age verification for online businesses
Age verification is an important step for many companies to stay compliant with laws and regulations – from gambling sites to those that sell age-restricted products like alcohol and tobacco. Increasingly, social media platforms are now also under scrutiny for failing to protect the privacy of children. The UK is set to pass the Online Safety Bill in the coming months, strengthening the existing requirements to use effective age verification processes for (1) providers of search engines, (2) online services which allow users to encounter content generated, uploaded or shared by other users and (3) online services which publish or display pornographic content with the possibility of fines and criminal penalties for breaches.
As for TikTok, the fine came amid statements that the platform should have done more to adhere to laws and verify the under-13s ages or obtain parental consent. "TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better. Our £12.7m fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had," said information commissioner John Edwards.
Online businesses take note, the Online Safety Bill will cast a wide net
Online businesses should pay close attention to the Online Safety Bill as its scope goes well beyond 'Big Tech' social media platforms and search engines. It is likely to cover tens of thousands of smaller sites, including messaging services, online forums where information can be shared or sites or platforms where users can interact with other users such as dating sites and marketplaces.
Companies needing reliable age verification can partner with trusted vendors to complete a fast, secure and accurate digital check. To find out more, read about Onfido’s market-leading solution.
Why choose Onfido for age verification?
See how easy it is to integrate an age verification solution with your technology. Contact us for a free demo of the Onfido Real Identity Platform.