TikTok investigated by UK data watchdog

ICO is looking into how TikTok collects private data and how its open messaging system allows adults to message children.

TikTok: reached 500 million monthly active users this year
TikTok: reached 500 million monthly active users this year

TikTok, the social media platform popular with teens, is being investigated by the UK’s data watchdog for how it handles the personal information of its young users. 

The UK’s information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, revealed to parliament yesterday (Tuesday) that her office began an investigation into TikTok in February.

The Information Commissioner's Office is investigating how TikTok collects private data and how the platform’s open messaging system allows adults to message children.

Denham told the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee that TikTok could be breaking the European Union’s GDPR that requires companies to provide different protections for children.

The ICO’s probe was prompted after the US Federal Trade Commission fined TikTok £4.2m for illegally collecting personal information from children aged under 13.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is popular among teenagers who like to share music videos and memes.

Since launching in China three years ago, TikTok has grown rapidly and had 500 million users as of April, according to Statista. It was the most downloaded mobile app in China last year and the most downloaded worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2018. 

TikTok said in a statement: "We co-operate with organisations 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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