Thursday, July 4, 2019

The chinese-owned video sharing app Tiktok is being investigated in U.K. for how it handles the personal data and safety of underage users.

TikTok allows users to upload 15-seconds video clips with the ability to add special effects and filters.

As of July this year, TikTok had been downloaded more than a billion times, with more than 500 million active users.

According to the Guardian, information commissioner Elizabeth Denham the investigation began after U.S. Federal Trade Commission levied $5.7 million fine against TikTok for breaking children’s privacy law in february.

Denham told the Guardian that the commision is looking into how TikTok collects private data and showed concerns about the open messaging system, which may allow anyone to  contact children. “We are looking at the transparency tools for children. We’re looking at the messaging system, which is completely open, we’re looking at the kind of videos that are collected and shared by children online. We do have an active investigation into TikTok right now, so watch this space,” she said.

The investigation will also examine if the popular app, owned by ByteDance, violates General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires companies to implement special protection measures for underage users and possibly provide them with different services than adults.

ByteDance told the Guardian in responce that “We cooperate with organizations 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.”

In the UK, primary schools have been writing to parents, highlighting the risk of letting young children access an app in which they may be exposed to inappropriate song lyrics, pornography, self-harm or violence, or potential predators.