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Instagram Penalized 410M USD For Not Protecting Children's Data

Instagram penalized 410M USD for not protecting children's data by Ireland’s data regulator. Instagram's actions are in failure to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a law that sets rules for how personal information from people who live outside of the European Union (EU) can be collected and used.

After looking into the Meta-owned social media platform for two years, the Data Protection Commission issued a fine. There were complaints that Instagram set all user accounts, even those of people younger than 18, to public by default.

It also concerned the accessibility of the contact information of minors using business accounts on the platform. The fine was related to outdated settings that were updated more than a year ago, according to Instagram, which accepts users over the age of 13.

It said that features to protect the privacy of teenagers had been available since July of last year. One of these features was that children's accounts were automatically set to private when they signed up.

On business accounts, teens are now also informed that, unless they choose to change it, the public will see their contact information. The company stated:

While we’ve engaged fully with the DPC throughout their inquiry, we disagree with how this fine was calculated and intend to appeal it. We’re continuing to carefully review the rest of the decision.

After an investigation into Facebook's handling of data breach notifications, the Irish regulator fined Meta 17 million euros (17.2 million USD) in March. For breaking WhatsApp's privacy rules, it was fined 225 (228 million USD) million euros last year. Meta is contesting the ruling on WhatsApp but agreeing with Facebook.

Faced with international government scrutiny and concerns from child safety advocates, Instagram put plans to launch Instagram Kids, a specialized version of the app for users under the age of 13, on hold last year. The company has confirmed the project is still on hold, but no release date has been set.

The Children's Code, or age-appropriate design code, mandated changes to British social media platforms last year in an effort to safeguard the personal information of children. Other countries, such as Ireland, Australia, and Canada, have drafted similar rules in response to the Regulations' call for stricter requirements to collect and process children's data. California's age-friendly design code was approved last week by the state senate and could take effect in 2024.

Lady Beeban Kidron, who came up with the idea for the Children's Code and is chair of the charity 5Rights for children's digital rights, said:

There is an urgent priority for a universal settlement for children’s privacy so that children across the globe are protected. No environment is 100 percent safe, but social media companies have been slow to act and cavalier about accepting the negative impacts of their products on children. Safety-by-design is not an aspiration, it is the minimum we should expect.

Penalizing Instagram - A Major Breach

The large tech companies with their European headquarters in the Republic of Ireland are regulated by the DPC. It has never given such a big fine for breaking the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union. Andy Burrows, head of child-safety-online policy at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), said of Instagram's fine:

This was a major breach that had significant safeguarding implications and the potential to cause real harm to children using Instagram. The ruling demonstrates how effective enforcement can protect children on social media and underlines how regulation is already making children safer online.

She added: "It's now over to the new prime minister to keep the promise to give children the strongest possible protections by delivering the Online Safety Bill in full and without delay."

Ireland Fines Instagram

A Parents Guide To Instagram

You can share photos and videos on Instagram for free on your iPhone or Android device. Users can post media such as photos and videos to the platform and broadcast them to a large audience or to a select few friends. They can also look at, comment on, and like Instagram posts that their friends have shared.

Anyone over 13 can create an account by giving their email address and choosing a username. As a parent, you may wonder, "Can I access my teen's Instagram account?"

Unfortunately, Instagram can't provide you with access to the account or take any action on the account at your request, despite your concern for your child's use of the app. Most privacy laws say that access can't be given to anyone who isn't the account holder.

If a user is 13 or older, they are automatically considered an authorized account holder and are subject to the terms of this policy. People need to be at least 13 years old to sign up for Instagram. However, the minimum age may be higher in some cases.

If you're worried about what your teen is doing on Instagram, "A Parent's Guide to Instagram" can help. Instagram made this guide with the help of safety and parenting groups from all over the world.

Instagram said:

We know parents and guardians often think about what their teens are doing online and how they can help their teens navigate social media safely, which is why we created 'A Parent’s Guide to Instagram.' This guide was created in partnership with safety, youth and parenting organizations and experts around the world.

The emphasis of the manual is on managing your time, interactions, privacy, and security on Instagram. It also gives an overview of our app's features and a list of the tools they have.

A discussion guide for how parents and guardians can openly discuss Instagram with their teenagers is also available. The Parent's Guide can be read in 32 different languages.

Final Words

Instagram penalized 410M USD for not protecting children's data. This is one of the heaviest penalties that can be imposed under GDPR. It is the third one that the Irish regulator has issued to Meta, the company that owns Facebook and WhatsApp. Next week, all of the specifics of the decision that the regulator made regarding Instagram will be made public.

About The Authors

Daisy-Mae Schmitt

Daisy-Mae Schmitt - Daisy-Mae is obsessed with inventing new ways to create awesome content that's absurdly useful and successful, with over ten years of editorial and inbound marketing experience. She also serves as a reporter, strategist, interviewer, mentor, and therapist for in-house contributors and clients.

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