UK regulators are investigating ByteDance’s overseas social video app, TikTok, for how it handles the safety and personal data of underage users, The Guardian reports.
Some of the areas of interest to UK regulators include how the platform collects and uses private data, the platform’s transparency tools, its open messaging system that allows anyone to message a child, and the types of videos collected and shared by children.
In April, a BBC investigation found TikTok was failing to suspend the accounts of those sending sexual messages to minors on its platform.
The app has over 500 million monthly active users, and has proven particularly popular with teenagers.
TikTok may also be at risk of violating the European Union’s general data protection regulation (GDPR), which requires platforms to provide different services and different protections for minors. Companies can be fined up to EUR 20 million (RMB 155 million) or 4% of revenue, whichever is higher, for breaking GDPR rules.
The UK investigation has been ongoing since February after the United States Federal Trade Commission slapped TikTok with a USD 5.7 million fine for illegally collecting data on users younger than 13 years old.
In a statement shared with KrASIA, TikTok said, “We are committed to protecting the safety and privacy of our user community. We comply with local laws and regulations and will provide relevant information in response to any inquiry. ”
In April, TikTok was suspended in India at the behest of the Madras High Court, which cited concerns over “inappropriate” content that was hosted on the platform, enabling “cultural degradation and pornography.” At the time, Apple and Google removed TikTok from their app stores following a request by the country’s IT ministry. The ban was lifted three weeks later after ByteDance pledged a USD 1 billion investment in the country.