Overnight Cybersecurity

Hillicon Valley — UK takes on TikTok over kids’ privacy

AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File
FILE – This Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, file photo, shows the TikTok logo on a smartphone in Tokyo.

A U.K. agency said TikTok could face a fine equivalent of roughly $29 million over allegations of violating children’s data privacy protections. 

Meanwhile, NASA’s scheduled launch of its Space Launch System rocket for the Artemis I mission was postponed again as a tropical storm moves toward the coast of Florida. 

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

TikTok could face $29 million fine

TikTok could face a fine of 27 million pounds, or roughly $29 million, over allegations of violating the United Kingdom’s children’s data privacy protection standards, a U.K. agency said Monday.  

TikTok allegedly breached the U.K.’s protections for children’s data privacy between May 2018 and July 2020, in part by processing the data for children under 13 without appropriate parental consent, according to an investigation by the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).  

The ICO also found that TikTok breached privacy protections by failing to provide proper information to users in a transparent way, and processing “special category data” without legal grounds to do so, according to the announcement.  

“We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with proper data privacy protections. 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,” Information Commissioner John Edwards said in a statement

The announcement is a preliminary step, and the ICO will not impose any financial penalty before considering representations from TikTok. 

TikTok’s response: A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement, “we disagree with the preliminary views expressed” by the ICO “and intend to formally respond to the ICO in due course.” 

Read more here.

NASA delays Artemis launch (again) 

NASA postponed the scheduled Tuesday launch of its Space Launch System rocket for the Artemis I mission as a major storm moves toward the coast of Florida.  

The space agency announced the delay in a statement after team members held a meeting Saturday. 

Officials will continue to watch the weather forecast coming with Hurricane Ian, which is expected to hit Florida as a major hurricane later this week, and are preparing for a rollback, in which the rocket would be taken off the launch platform to the vehicle assembly building.  

  • The delay is the third for the Artemis I mission that will see an unmanned spacecraft orbit the moon as the first step in a multiyear program through which people return to the moon’s surface for the first time in half a century. 
  • NASA delayed the launch first in late August and again earlier this month following technical problems. One of the rocket’s engines failed to condition to the correct temperature before the planned Aug. 29 launch, and engineers were unable to resolve a liquid hydrogen leak on Sept. 3. 

Read more here.  


SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced on Friday that he is activating the company’s Starlink satellite internet service in Iran after U.S. officials eased sanctions to allow the Iranian people greater access to the internet.  

The Treasury Department announced the policy change earlier on Friday to let companies provide additional online services as the Iranian government has cut off internet access for most of the country as protests continue nationwide.  

Musk previously announced on Monday that he planned to request permission for Starlink to operate in Iran after the Treasury said it would welcome applications to support internet freedom in the country.  

“We took action today to advance Internet freedom and the free flow of information for the Iranian people, issuing a General License to provide them greater access to digital communications to counter the Iranian government’s censorship,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet

Read more here.


An op-ed to chew on: NASA’s flagship mission to Uranus should use nuclear propulsion 

Notable links from around the web: 

What’s that bag of white stuff? Some Uber drivers worry they’re drug mules (NBC News / David Ingram) 

TikTok Seen Moving Toward U.S. Security Deal, but Hurdles Remain (The New York Times / Lauren Hirsch, David McCabe, Katie Benner, Glenn Thrush)  

🍰 Lighter click: It’s one of our favorites, too, Adam 

One more thing: Putin grants Snowden citizenship  

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a decree granting citizenship to former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden.  

Snowden fled the U.S. in 2013 after he leaked classified information about government surveillance programs and was charged with espionage. He’s been living in exile in Moscow for nearly a decade to avoid prosecution on American soil.

He said in 2019 that he ultimately hoped to return home if the government guaranteed him a fair trial, but he contended the U.S. wasn’t willing to let him defend his actions as having been made in the public interest.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Snowden requested an extended residency permit that would allow him to spend three more years in Russia. Later that year, Russia granted him an unlimited permit. 

Read more here.  

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.


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