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TikTok slapped with fine in South Korea over mishandled user data

Written by South China Morning Post Published on 

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The Korea Communications Commission said TikTok collected personal information of users under the age of 14 without parental consent.

ByteDance-owned TikTok has been slapped with a fine by South Korea’s telecommunications authority for mishandling data of underage users in the country, marking the popular short video app’s latest run-in with regulators after disputes in India and the US.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) on Wednesday imposed a KRW 186 million (USD 155,000) fine on TikTok for collecting personal information of users under the age of 14 without parental consent and not notifying users about transferring their data to servers overseas, the regulator said on its website.

TikTok illegally collected 6,000 pieces of user data and transferred its users’ information in Korea to servers in Singapore and the US, according to a report by the Yonhap News Agency, which cited the KCC.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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While TikTok has become one of the most heavily downloaded apps worldwide since it was launched outside China in 2017, its rapid growth had been marred by subsequent regulatory issues in Indonesia, the US and India.

Earlier this month, American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was considering taking action against Chinese social media apps, such as TikTok, over privacy issues and potential national security risks amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology late in June issued an interim order banning TikTok and 58 other popular Chinese apps over security concerns, weeks after a deadly Himalayan border clash between troops of the two countries.

Read this: Life after TikTok ban in India: the search for a perfect alternative

Still, TikTok’s regulatory troubles have not slowed down the app’s adoption outside China. ByteDance operates a Chinese-language version, Douyin, for the domestic market.

TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide for June, with more than 87 million installations, up 52.7% from the same period last year, across Apple’s App Store and Google Play, according to a report last week by app analytics company Sensor Tower. It said the countries with the most TikTok installs last month were India at 18.8% of the app’s total downloads and the US at 8.7%. App Store data included Douyin installs in China.

As of Wednesday, TikTok was South Korea’s most downloaded Android video-sharing app, ahead of YouTube and other local products, according to data from app analytics firm App Annie.

This article was originally published by the South China Morning Post

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