TikTok, a Chinese short video platform, is quite popular among young users, which has led to a slew of privacy-related issues.
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found the video-sharing platform may have processed the data of under-13s without appropriate consent. This breach of privacy is said to have happened over more than two years, between May 2018 and July 2020.
The UK government’s finding has resulted in the platform potentially receiving a fine of £27 million.
In a legal document notifying TikTok of the possible fine, The Information Commissioner’s Office also said that TikTok may have processed sensitive categories of data “without legal grounds” and may have failed to provide information to its users transparently enough.
“We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with proper data privacy protections,” said Information Commissioner John Edwards. He further added that “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.”
In response, TikTok disputes the findings, stating they are “provisional.” In a statement, TikTok said: “While we respect the ICO’s role in safeguarding privacy in the UK, we disagree with the preliminary views expressed and intent to formally respond to the ICO in due course.”
While today’s announcement is not final, it indicates that the UK’s investigations have unearthed enough to warrant a potentially hefty fine. This also shows the UK’s commitment to the safeguarding of children’s privacy rights in addition to the Children’s Code which has tolled in September last year. The Children’s Code put in place new data protection codes of practice for online services likely to be accessed by children, built on existing protection laws, with financial penalties a possibility for serious breaches.
This sentiment is also echoed in the US, where the US Senate Committee voted to approve a measure that would raise the age that children were given special online privacy protections to 16 and prohibit targeted advertising to children without consent.
This is not the first time the platform has been sanctioned due to its mishandling of children’s data. In 2019, the firm was given a record $5.7 million fine by the Federal Trade Commission for mishandling children’s data. They have also been fined in South Korea for similar reasons.
Insurtech platform Zopper, which is run by Solvy Tech Solutions, has raised $75 million from investors to fund its expansion plan.
The funding round was led by Creaegis, which saw the participation from ICICI Venture and Bessemer Venture Partners, and existing backer Blume Ventures, according to the New Delhi-based company.
The company’s cofounder Surjendu Kuila has said that the capital will be used to support the international expansion of Zopper, beef up the platform’s technology and data engineering functions, and for strategic acquisitions.
Zopper, founded in 2011, provides an application programming interface (API)-based software platform which connects insurers and banks with third-party platforms. The integration allows these platforms to embed and distribute insurance products to customers.
Zopper built a platform for small and medium-sized businesses, helping merchants with invoicing and payments through its point-of-sale platform for over half a decade. The company then sold that IP to PhonePe in mid-2018, but instead of joining the fintech giant, Copper has been working on a new venture from a scratch and independent of PhonePe.
Mayank Gupta, co-founder, and chief operating officer of Zopper, explained that “To PhonePe, it was an asset sale, and the proceedings of the deal were clocked as revenues on Zopper’s books. There was no change in the parent’s shareholdings, and neither did PhonePe take a stake in the holding company.”
According to Surjendu Kuila, Zopper is now scouting for acquisitions across its adjacent business lines of insurance claims and distributions. It will look to make at least two new acquisitions in the next year to help with increasing its margins.
He said that “We will look at acquisitions which will help our core business in two ways. First is to help create a basket or bouquet of insurance products which will help increase our margins. Second is onboarding interesting platforms to make our technology stack more frictionless.”
Zopper currently has a presence in over 1,200 Indian cities and has partnered with over 150 players in the industry, including retail group Amazon, ride-hailing startup Ola, retail chain Croma, phone maker Xiaomi, Japanese conglomerate Hitachi, and Equitas Small Finance Bank.
According to multiple sources, Shopee has shut down local operations in four Latin countries, mainly Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, while leaving Argentina entirely.
The Singapore-based company will maintain cross-border operations in the first three markets but cut most of its teams in the countries, affecting dozens of employees. However, this will not affect Brazil, where Shopee has become a dominant player.
In a statement to Reuters, the company confirmed that it would “concentrate on a cross-border model in Mexico, Colombia, and Chile, and close in Argentina.”
As the world continues to transition out of the pandemic, the company’s shares took a tumble to $27 billion. This value is a far cry from its market value during the pandemic, which saw its market value soar to more than $200 billion last October as its gaming and e-commerce units surged in popularity.
Shopee in shutting down operations in these Latin countries saw their decision affected “dozens of employees,” as reported by Reuters.
This is not the first time that Shopee has cut down on jobs. In June, Shopee cut jobs across its e-commerce and food delivery divisions for Southeast Asia and its Latin American operations.
Most recently, the company canceled a slew of employment offers last minute, which garnered attention in China when one worker posted his plight on WeChat after arriving in Singapore.
The user named ‘Lin Ge goes to Nanyang’ said, “I landed with my wife and dog and was told my offer [from Shopee] was canceled while I was still at the airport.”
The cuts from Shopee, owned by Tencent Holdings-backed Sea Limited, have largely affected technology positions in Singapore, where the company is based in Singapore. Sea is one of many tech companies worldwide cutting back amid a slowing global economy and fears of recession.
According to a company representative, “Due to adjustments to hiring plans for some tech teams, a number of roles at Shopee are no longer available. We are working closely to support those areas affected.”
Josys, Japan headquartered B2B platform, has raised $32 Million in a Series A investing round. The round was led by Global Brain Corporation, ANRI, Yamauchi-No.10 Family Office, Office Holdings, World Innovation Lab, and other venture capital firms.
The company, which spun off from its parent company Raksul last year, launched its automated management IT devices and SaaS application in September 2021 to reduce IT operations costs and enhance security systems.
Josys claims that it sets itself apart from other management platforms like BetterCloud and Okta by empowering its users by providing multiple professional services, including device procurement, business outsourcing (kitting services), and storage, along with SaaS management.
The latest funding round will see Josys speed up its overseas expansion to Singapore, India, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, United States, and Canada. The company predicts that it will have its first launch in Singapore in early 2023. Additionally, the firm would use the fresh funding to strengthen its R&D base in India and sales team in Japan and accelerate corporations’ digital transformation.
General partner at Global Brain Keisuke Tatsuoka said, “Over the past five years, the environment surrounding Corporate IT has changed dramatically, with the ever-increasing number of SaaS to manage in addition to the management of devices and remote work.”
He continues to add that “Josys simplifies the maintenance and management of IT infrastructure and allow us to focus on business operations, and will become an indispensable service for our businesses.”
General partner and co-founder of WiL Ventures Masataka Matsumoto stated, “Corporate IT is undergoing a major transition due to the digital transformation and changing ways of working post-coronavirus.” He continued by saying that “the importance of security management and the limitations of in-house production of corporate IT are some of the issues the company is trying to address globally to solve these challenges.”
Josys claims its monthly recurring revenue (MRR) has increased 29x in nine months from Q1 to Q4 in 2022. Its clients span large enterprises to small companies, including Japanese cosmetic company iStyle.
Group One is changing its legal domicile from Singapore to the Cayman Islands as it prepares for a potential US Initial Public Offering (IPO). According to an unverified source that wishes to remain anonymous, the company plans to notify the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, the Singaporean regulator, as early as the 29th of August.
Group One Holdings is the company behind mixed martial arts brand ONE Championship, considering a US IPO after exploring a listing via a blank-cheque firm. This consideration comes after the company raised an additional $150 million last December. The article by Bloomberg stated that the new investment puts the company’s valuation at a whopping $1.35 billion.
Guggenheim Investments and Qatar Investment Authority led this latest round of investments. The latter is Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and owns the Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). The country has invested vast amounts of money in order to host this year’s World Cup.
The company, in its expansion, has already signed several UFC veterans, including Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson, and Sage Northcutt.
For the past two years, ONE Championship has held events exclusively in Singapore in response to the COVID-19 restrictions. But the promotion is set to return to Tokyo in November.
It will be interesting to see whether this leads to ONE Championship putting on more events in the Middle East. To date, there has been just one event there, which took place in Dubai back in 2014.
Events are being broadcasted live in North America on Amazon Prime every month. ONE Championship recently secured a multiyear streaming rights deal with Amazon Prime Video, effective on the 26th of August.
The deal would give the company more reason to shift its focus toward the North American Market and opt for a US listing. The agreement calls for Amazon to stream at least 12 events each year.
In a statement by ONE Championship vice president Rich Franklin, he stated, “ They have 200 million subscribers. This is going to open up the U.S. and Canadian audience for us coming to the U.S., so this is Phase 1.” Additionally, he further added that “They’re the home of ‘Thursday Night [Football],’ so this was a no-brainer for us.”