Irish watchdog probes TikTok for misuse of children’s data

By Becky Bargh | Published: 15-Sep-2021

Leading EU regulator, Data Protection Commission, could fine the social media giant up to 4% of its global revenue, if found guilty of breaking GDPR rules

TikTok, China’s social media darling and beauty’s current marketing tool of choice, is facing two inquiries regarding the processing of children’s personal data and transfers of personal data to its home market.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commision (DPC), a leading independent EU regulator for a number of top global internet firms, could impose fines of up to 4% of global revenue, if it finds the video-sharing platform to have breached GDPR regulations.

The first of the DPC’s investigations will examine TikTok’s compliance regarding “the processing of personal data in the context of platform settings for users under age 18 and age verification measures for persons under 13”, it said in a statement.

This line of scrutiny will also look at whether the firm has complied with GDPR transparency obligations.

The DPC’s definition of transparency under Article 13 and 14 states that: “Individuals should be made aware of risks, rules, safeguards and rights in relation to the processing of personal data and how to exercise their rights in relation to such processing.”

For its second line of inquiry, the watchdog will look at potential transfers of personal data made by TikTok to China, as well as the site’s transfers of intel to third countries.

In relation to its law enforcement guidelines, the ByteDance-owned company “is committed to cooperating with law enforcement while respecting the privacy and other rights of its users”.

It added: “To achieve this, TikTok has internal policies and procedures governing how TikTok handles and responds to law enforcement requests.”

Cosmetics Business has reached out to TikTok for further comment.

Beauty’s TikTok winners

TikTok has emerged as a winning platform for beauty brands to establish a loyal following and attract a younger demographic.

In 2021, following a strong shift to online shopping throughout the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, cosmetics brands have found favour on the site, with The Ordinary topping out as the hottest skin care brand on TikTok, with almost 100 million hashtag views and 288k followers.

Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, e.l.f. Cosmetics and other cult brands have also found fame on the site.

Meanwhile, legacy brands have been getting in on the action with L’Oréal introducing a pilot shopping channel via TikTok for its Garnier and NYX Professional brands.

Estée Lauder also came into the TikTok fold over the summer, using the social media site as a vehicle to tap a new audience.

And it’s not just brands cracking the TikTok code; beauty influencers are also making millions via the platform.

Addison Rae – owner of Item Beauty aimed at Gen Z – emerged as the beauty influencer with the highest net worth of US$5m, making her the third highest paid influencer, second only to Brent Rivera, a social media personality with a net worth of $6.5m, and restaurateur Burak Özdemir, at the top with $11m.

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