The trigger was an investigation into the handling of user data of minors from the end of July to the end of December 2020, as the Irish data protection authority announced on Friday. This specifically concerned some of the platform’s settings and age verification when registering. Among other things, the default setting was that posts such as videos from users between the ages of 13 and 17 could be published by default for everyone to see. The comment function in the profiles was also accessible to all other users as a default.
“Settings valid three years ago”
In a response, TikTok emphasized that the results of the investigation primarily related to settings that were valid three years ago. “And most of these findings are no longer relevant due to measures we put in place before the investigation began.” This means that all accounts of users under the age of 16 have been set to private by default.
In addition to the fine, TikTok was asked to bring data processing into line with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) within three months. The record fine under the GDPR of 1.2 billion euros was imposed on the Facebook group Meta in May.
User data should be relocated to Ireland by 2024
TikTok is in the process of moving European user data to a new data center in Ireland. Another data center in Ireland and one in Norway are under construction. By the end of 2024, European user data will be transferred there and stored there by default.
TikTok wants to gain trust in Europe with the plan called “Project Clover”. The video app has a difficult political position in the West because it is owned by the Chinese company Bytedance. The EU Commission and several European governments banned the use of the app on their employees’ work cell phones. With “Project Clover,” TikTok wants to guarantee that access to personal data of European users is strictly regulated and transparent.
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