The European Union fined communist Chinese government-tied TikTok hundreds of millions of dollars for mishandling the personal information of minors on the app.
The Financial Times reported that Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) — the regulator that found that TikTok was in violation of the EU’s data protection rules — said TikTok set the profiles of minors aged 13-17 to “public” by default. This means anyone on and/or off the platform could view the content and contact the minor user. The platform has over 134 million monthly users in the European Union alone. The fine, which amounted to €345 euros, is the equivalent of roughly over a whopping $368 million U.S. dollars.
The European Consumer Organisation Deputy Director-General Ursula Pachl said she hopes the fine is a “wake-up call” for social media platforms. “‘We now hope this decision triggers change at the company to address issues which not only concern minors, but also adults,’” Pachl reportedly stated. The United Kingdom imposed a $15.9 million fine on the platform for similarly failing to protect the privacy of children by reportedly allowing over 1.4 million children under 13 to use the app in 2020 alone.
Unsurprisingly, TikTok claims it did nothing wrong.
“‘We respectfully disagree with the decision, particularly the level of the fine imposed,’” TikTok reportedly said in response.. “‘The DPC’s criticisms are focused on features and settings that were in place three years ago, and that we made changes to well before the investigation even began, such as setting all under-16 accounts to private by default.’”
MRC Free Speech America has consistently warned about the dangers TikTok poses to national security, free speech and children.
“TikTok has given so many assurances in the past that it wouldn’t surveil users and it’s violated all of those assurances so they’re entitled to absolutely no credibility,” he said. Chang added that “there’s nothing that [TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew] could say that would provide an assurance.”
Former member of the Defense Intelligence Community Scott Kieff also warned that the U.S. should take the dangers of CCP-tied TikTok seriously. “[TikTok is] very much authentically part of a foreign state that has shown itself and declared itself to use networks like this both to gather [data] and to influence,” he said. “It’s OK to take adversaries at face value when they say they’re acting against you and show they’re acting against you.”
Former Deputy National Security Advisor KT McFarland also reasoned that TikTok’s unlimited collection of user data is highly concerning. She claimed that by downloading the app, “you’re letting the Chinese Communist Party into every aspect of your life.” She noted how “that doesn’t just mean that they have access to your emails. They have access to your camera, for example, when you think it’s turned off. They have access to your address book.”
The platform also has a troubling history when it comes to censorship.
MRC Free Speech America’s CensorTrack database recorded that TikTok canceled accounts associated with at least 11 pro-free speech organizations since January 2019. Pro life accounts, satire accounts, and pro free speech accounts were banned without explanation. Even the MRC’s own MRCTV account was among those that TikTok shut down.
Every “permanently banned” account received the same exact notice. “Your account was permanently banned due to multiple violations of our Community Guidelines.” No further explanation or reason was provided for the permanent ban. [Emphasis added.] (TikTok uses the term “permanently banned” when it bans accounts, even when those accounts are later restored by the platform.)
Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.