Exclusive: Snapchat under scrutiny from UK watchdog over underage users

Exclusive: Snapchat under scrutiny from UK watchdog over underage users

Britain’s data regulator is currently investigating Snapchat to determine if the popular messaging app is taking sufficient action to remove underage users from its platform. This follows a previous report by RushHourDaily in March, which revealed that Snapchat had only removed a small number of children under the age of 13 from its platform in the UK, despite estimates from UK media regulator Ofcom suggesting that there are thousands of underage users on the app.

Under UK data protection law, social media companies are required to obtain parental consent before processing the data of children under the age of 13. While most social media platforms have an age requirement of 13 or older, they have struggled to effectively prevent children from accessing their platforms. Snapchat has not disclosed any specific measures it has taken to address the issue of underage users.

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, expressed its commitment to ensuring age-appropriate digital platforms and supporting the guidelines outlined in the Children’s Code. They stated that they are engaged in constructive discussions with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) regarding their efforts in this regard.

Before initiating a formal investigation, the ICO typically gathers information related to the alleged breach. This may involve issuing an information notice to request internal data that could aid the investigation. The ICO received several complaints from the public regarding Snap’s handling of children’s data following the RushHourDaily report.

Ofcom’s research from last year revealed that 60% of children between the ages of eight and 11 had at least one social media account, often created by providing false birth dates. Snapchat was identified as the most popular app among underage social media users.

The ICO has been in contact with users and other regulators to assess whether Snap has violated any regulations. The ICO spokesperson confirmed that they continue to monitor and evaluate the measures taken by Snap and other social media platforms to prevent underage children from accessing their services. A decision on whether to launch a formal investigation into Snapchat is expected in the coming months.

If the ICO determines that Snap has breached its rules, the company could face a fine of up to 4% of its annual global turnover, which amounts to approximately $184 million based on recent financial results. Social media platforms like Snapchat are facing increasing pressure worldwide to improve content moderation on their platforms.

According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Young Children (NSPCC), Snapchat was involved in 43% of cases where social media was used to distribute indecent images of children. Snapchat has not responded to this report when asked for comment by RushHourDaily.

Earlier this year, the ICO fined TikTok £12.7 million ($16.2 million) for misusing children’s data and failing to take sufficient action to remove underage users. TikTok defended its efforts to keep under-13s off the platform, highlighting its significant investments and dedicated safety team.

While Snapchat does block users who provide a date of birth indicating they are under 13, other apps take more proactive measures to prevent underage access. For example, TikTok continues to block individuals who attempt to sign up with a false date of birth.

The ICO’s decision on whether to launch a formal investigation into Snapchat will be made in the coming months. It is clear that social media platforms like Snapchat are under scrutiny and must take stronger measures to protect underage users and comply with data protection regulations.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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