December 2023

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has launched an inquiry into whether TikTok’s use of marketing pixels, which track people’s online habits, breaches Australia’s privacy laws.

The inquiry will also examine claims that TikTok (and its parent company ByteDance) is using pixels to collect information from non-TikTok users – and without consent.

The aim of the inquiry is to determine, in the first instance, if there is sufficient evidence to warrant a formal investigation into the claims.

The OAIC’s inquiry follows recent large TikTok fines issued by European and UK data and privacy watchdogs.

In September, 2023, TikTok was fined €345m (AU$560m)[i] by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC)  for breaking the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy law about children’s accounts and data handling including by failing to shield underage users’ content from public view and finding “that TikTok had not been transparent enough with children about its privacy settings, and raised questions about how their data was processed”[ii].

This followed shortly after TikTok was fined £12.7m (AU$24m) (in April 2023) by the UK data regulator “for illegally processing the data of 1.4 million children under the age of 13 who were using its platform without parental consent” in 2020.[iii]

With TikTok reportedly having 8.5 million Australian users and being the social media app of choice for Gen Z[iv], this inquiry is timely.

Disclaimer: This information sheet is not intended to be a substitute for obtaining legal advice.

© Stephens Lawyers & Consultants, 30 January, 2024Authored by Rochina Iannella, Lawyer, Stephens Lawyers & Consultants.

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[i] The Guardian, Amy Remeikis, “TikTok’s data collection being scrutinised by Australia’s privacy watchdog” (28 December, 2023) –

[ii] BBC News online, Tom Gerken & Liv McMahon (Technology Reporters), TikTok fined €345m over children’s data privacy” (15 September 2023) –

[iii] The Guardian online by Dan Milmo – Global Technology Editor – “TikTok fined €345m for breaking EU data law on children’s accounts” by Dan Milmo (Global Technology Editor) – 15 September 2023 –

[iv] The Guardian, by Amy Remeikis, “TikTok’s data collection being scrutinised by Australia’s privacy watchdog” (28 December, 2023) –