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TikTok Fined $155,000 For Mishandling User Data in South Korea

By Ding Yi / Jul 16, 2020 04:52 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Just two weeks after being removed from Indian app stores, ByteDance-owned TikTok took another hit in South Korea, where the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) fined the viral short video app 186 million won ($155,000) for mishandling user data, according to a report by Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday.

The South Korean telecom watchdog said that its decision stemmed from TikTok’s violation of local telecom laws that ban apps from collecting the data of children under the age of 14 without parental consent, Yonhap reported.

The move marks the latest blow to TikTok’s efforts to expand its overseas footprint as global concerns about the social media platform’s data privacy practices grow.

In an investigation which began in October last year, the KCC found that TikTok illegally gathered some 6,000 pieces of data involving children and failed to inform local users before moving their personal data onto its servers in the U.S. and Singapore, Yonhap added.

As of the end of last year, TikTok had 3.4 million users in South Korea, according to Yonhap, citing data from industry tracker WiseApp. Since its entry into the country in 2017, the app has been popular among teenagers.

The news comes a week after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to ban Chinese social media apps including TikTok during an interview with Fox News.

Facing mounting U.S. pressures, TikTok has reportedly expanded its lobbying team to include Michael Hacker, former senior advisor to the House majority whip James Clyburn, D-S.C. and Kim Lipsky, who previously worked as staff director of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

In the past three months, TikTok’s lobbyists held at least 50 meetings with U.S. congressional staff and lawmakers in an attempt to ensure a more favorable operating environment in the U.S., according to a report by the New York Times.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: India Asks Banned Chinese Apps 77 Questions Over Content Review and Data Security


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