The UK’s data regulator commenced a process to gather information on Snap’s efforts to remove underage users from its Snapchat app, a move which could lead to a wider investigation, Reuters reported.

Reuters stated the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is looking at potential breaches made by the company. It may then issue a formal request for internal data and, after assessing the information, it could launch an official probe.

The ICO’s attention on Snap follows a study by regulator Ofcom in 2022 which found thousands of users below the age of 13-years are registered to Snapchat, making it the most popular social networking platform among underage users in UK.

Reuters reported in March the company had only removed around 700 users aged below 13 between April 2021 and April 2022.

Under UK data protection law, social media companies need parental consent before processing the data of anyone under the age of 13.

Most social media platforms require users to be 13 years of age or above.

Reuters stated a Snap representative declined to comment on the measures it took to reduce accounts belonging to children, but added it shares the goals of UK authorities to ensure online platforms are “age appropriate”.

Snap could face a fine equivalent to 4 per cent of its annual global turnover if the regulator finds it has breached data protection laws.

Earlier this year, the ICO imposed a £12.7 million fine on video-sharing app TikTok as it found the platform had misused children’s data.