South Korea Fines TikTok For Mishandling Child Data

South Korea fines TikTok
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South Korea has announced it will issue TikTok with fines after it found the social media company mishandled child data in violation of South Korea’s privacy laws. 

The fine was handed to TikTok by the South Korean Communications Commission (KCC), and totals 186-million won (AUD $220,00) after it found that TikTok was collecting the data of children under 14-years of age without the consent of their legal guardians. 

The fine sits at around 3% of TikTok’s yearly revenue, which is close to the 4% of revenue figure stipulated in GDPR legislation if a company is found guilty of breaching its laws. 

The announcement of the fine comes after an investigation was launched by the KCC last year, and found TikTok in breach of more than 6,000 incidents of collecting children’s data over a six-month period. 

The KCC also says that TikTok failed to reveal that personal data was being collected and transferred overseas. 

A spokesperson for TikTok has said that “we hold ourselves to very high standards on data privacy, and work to continuously improve and strengthen our standards.” 

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According to a report from Firstpost, “TikTok was required to submit voluntary preventative measures within 30 days, and the regulator planned to continue discussions with TikTok on information security issues, an official with the Korea Communications Commission said.” 

In February of 2019, the TikTok-owned app Musical.ly was fined $5.7 million in the US after being found in violation of children’s privacy, and agreed to implement new techniques to deal with users under the age of 13. 

In that settlement, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that the TikTok-owned app was wittingly hosting content from underage users in violation of children’s data privacy laws, and ordered TikTok to delete all data involving underage users. 

In addition TikTok was forced to implement age verification for its services, however, it remains open to manipulation and fraud from underage users who say they are older than they actually are. 

south korea fines TikTok

The report comes amid a number of controversies for the Chinese-owned app. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is facing nation-wide bans in India and growing speculation from the West as to the security integrity of TikTok, and its potential for misuse as an espionage tool used by the Chinese Communist Party. 

Last week, Republican Congressman Ken Buck wrote to President Donald Trump about TikTok’s current privacy policy, warning that Chinese-owned apps represent a data collection threat from a foreign adversary. 

“These popular apps’ data collection practices, coupled with China’s onerous cybersecurity laws requiring all companies operating in China to share data with CCP authorities present a very real threat to U.S. national security,” he wrote. 

“It is clear that the United States should not trust TikTok or any other Chinese-affiliated social media websites or apple to protect Americans’ data, privacy or security.” 

“As such, we urge you to take strong action to stop the CCP’s sophisticated espionage campaign against our country and protect our national security,” Congressman Buck concluded. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump have said previously that the administration “was certainly looking at” the potential national security threat posed by Chinese-owned applications like TikTok, and would make an official move on the matter soon. 

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