Skip to Content
Humans and technology

TikTok is being investigated over its use of children’s data (again)

TikTok
TikTokAssociated Press

The company received the biggest fine ever for a case involving children’s privacy in the US in February.

The news: The UK’s data privacy regulator is investigating how video-sharing app TikTok handles children’s personal data, and whether it’s doing enough to keep children safe on its platform. Specifically, it is looking into whether TikTok is breaking European data protection laws, information commissioner Elizabeth Denham told a parliamentary committee, the Guardian reports. There are also concerns over the fact that TikTok’s open messaging system lets any adult communicate with any child. TikTok is the fastest-growing social-media platform, with about 500 million monthly active users.

March of the regulators: Back in February the company was fined $5.7 million by the US Federal Trade Commission for illegally collecting kids’ personal information. Specifically, TikTok had failed to seek parental consent before collecting personal information from users under the age of 13.

Live-stream gifting: TikTok lets users send video stars “digital gifts” worth up to $62 during live streams, a practice that is common in TikTok’s native China but less so in the West. A BBC investigation has revealed that some TikTok users (including children) are spending hundreds of dollars sending money to their favorite stars this way.

Age of consent: Thirteen is the internet’s de facto “age of adulthood” thanks to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in the US, passed in 1998. But some child development experts (not to mention a few parents) think that legislation is out of date, and online age limits need to be reexamined.

Sign up here to our daily newsletter The Download to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

It’s time to retire the term “user”

The proliferation of AI means we need a new word.

The problem with plug-in hybrids? Their drivers.

Plug-in hybrids are often sold as a transition to EVs, but new data from Europe shows we’re still underestimating the emissions they produce.

Sam Altman says helpful agents are poised to become AI’s killer function

Open AI’s CEO says we won’t need new hardware or lots more training data to get there.

An AI startup made a hyperrealistic deepfake of me that’s so good it’s scary

Synthesia's new technology is impressive but raises big questions about a world where we increasingly can’t tell what’s real.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.