South Korea's telecommunications regulator has slapped a fine against Chinese-owned short-video streaming platform TikTok for allegedly mishandling the personal data of its underage users. The penalty marks TikTok's latest run-in with global regulators after it was outright banned in India late last month.
On Wednesday, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) had imposed a fine of 186 million won or roughly $155,000 on the popular short video app. The agency accused the company of illegally collecting the personal information of underage users, aged below 14 years-old, without consent from their parents or legal guardians. The agency added that TikTok was also guilty of failing to notify users in South Korea that some of their data would be transferred to data servers abroad.
According to reports citing statements issued by the KCC, TikTok had apparently collected thousands of individual pieces of data from its users, some of which were transferred to its servers in the U.S. and Singapore. TikTok and its owner ByteDance have yet to issue a formal response to the KCC's accusations.
Since it was launched internationally back in 2017, TikTok has become one of the world's most downloaded mobile apps with hundreds of millions of users worldwide. The app's popularity has managed to get the attention of regulators in countries such as India and the U.S., both of which have standing disputes with China.
U.S. lawmakers and regulators have accused TikTok and other Chinese social media apps of being potential national security risks. Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that the White House is considering an outright ban on the use of Chinese social media apps in the country.
Late last month, India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued an interim order than banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps. The decision to ban the app was made after a public outcry to boycott Chinese products following a deadly border clash between Indian and Chinese troops.
Despite being banned in India and threats of a similar ban in the U.S., TikTok's global adoption still continues to grow to this day. Last month, the app was the world's most downloaded non-gaming mobile app, beating other popular social media and streaming apps such as YouTube and Twitter. According to data published by analytics firm Sensor Tower, TikTok was downloaded and installed more than 87 million times in June.
The same report revealed that India still had the most downloads of the app, accounting for 18.8 percent of the total. In South Korea, TikTok remained to be the most downloaded video-sharing app, ahead of locally-developed and other international mobile apps.