The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) issued a notice of intent to TikTok and its TikTok Information Technologies UK entity alleging the internet goliath breached British rules between May 2018 and July 2020. A notice of intent precedes a potential fine from the regulator.
While $29 million penalty is unlikely to bother TikTok it might spark other investigations through-out the rest of the world.
According to the watchdog's investigation, TikTok may have processed the data of children under 13 without parental consent, and used "special category" data without legal grounds to do so. This information includes ethnic and racial origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, genetic and biometric data or health data.
Additionally, TikTok didn't provide information to users in a "concise, transparent and easily understood way," the regulator said.
"We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with proper data privacy protections," Information Commissioner John Edwards said in a statement. "Companies providing digital services have a legal duty to put those protections in place, but our provisional view is that TikTok fell short of meeting that requirement."
"We are currently looking into how over 50 different online services are conforming with the Children's Code and have six ongoing investigations looking into companies providing digital services who haven't, in our initial view, taken their responsibilities around child safety seriously enough," he added.