TikTok is currently under investigation in the United Kingdom for failing to protect children’s privacy while they use the application.
This was announced by the Information Commissioner’s Office in its preliminary findings, published on Monday. The legal document covered the period from May 2018 to July 2020.
It said TikTok may have processed the data of children under 13 without appropriate parental consent, and processed “special category data” without legal grounds to do so.
Further potential failures include not providing clear and transparent information to users and processing sensitive data illegally.
The social media giant faces a fine of up to $29 million.
Information Commissioner John Edwards said the body’s provisional view was that TikTok “fell short” of providing proper data privacy protections.
“We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with proper data privacy protections,” said Edwards in a statement. “Companies providing digital services have a legal duty to put those protections in place, but our provisional view is that TikTok fell short of meeting that requirement.”
The body said its findings are not final and that it will consider any representations from TikTok before making a final decision.
“While we respect the ICO’s role in safeguarding privacy in the U.K., we disagree with the preliminary views expressed and intend to formally respond to the ICO,” said a statement released by TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.
The ICO is also looking into how 50 different online services conform with the UK’s Children’s Code and has six open investigations into companies it thinks haven’t taken their responsibilities seriously enough.