EU Launches Inquiry into TikTok for content and child safety concerns 2024

Video platform beneath scrutiny over potential breach of Digital Companies Act in areas akin to age verification

TikTok mentioned it had pioneered options and settings to guard teenagers and hold under-13s off the platform. {Photograph}: Kiichiro Sato/AP

The EU has launched a proper investigation into whether or not TikTok has damaged on-line content material guidelines together with the safeguarding of youngsters.

The European Fee mentioned it had opened official proceedings in opposition to the Chinese language-owned quick video platform over potential breaches of the Digital Services Act (DSA).

It mentioned the investigation was areas together with safety of minors, sustaining information of its promoting content material and whether or not its algorithms led customers down damaging content material “rabbit holes”.

Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for inside market, mentioned the safety of youngsters was a “prime enforcement precedence” beneath the DSA. The investigation into little one security on TikTok consists of age verification – an issue highlighted by a Guardian investigation into the platform last year – and the default privateness settings used for kids’s accounts.

“As a platform that reaches tens of millions of youngsters and youngsters, TikTok should totally adjust to the DSA and has a specific position to play within the safety of minors on-line,” Breton mentioned. “We’re launching this formal infringement continuing at the moment to make sure that proportionate motion is taken to guard the bodily and emotional wellbeing of younger Europeans. We should spare no effort to guard our kids.”

Final April, the Irish information watchdog fined TikTok €345m (£295m) for breaches of EU information legislation within the platform’s handling of children’s accounts. In the identical month, the UK info commissioner fined the corporate £12.7m for illegally processing the information of youngsters aged beneath 13 who had been beneath the minimal age for utilizing TikTok.

Corporations that breach the DSA face the specter of fines of as much as 6% of their world turnover. TikTok is owned by the Chinese language tech firm ByteDance.

TikTok mentioned it will proceed to work with consultants and the trade to maintain younger individuals on its platform protected and that it appeared ahead to explaining this work intimately to the European Fee.

“TikTok has pioneered options and settings to guard teenagers and hold under-13s off the platform, points the entire trade is grappling with,” a spokesperson for the corporate mentioned.

The fee can also be “suspected shortcomings” in TikTok’s provision of publicly accessible information to researchers, alongside whether or not the corporate had complied with necessities to ascertain a database of advertisements which have appeared on the platform.

No deadline has been set for the investigation. Brussels has mentioned the inquiry is dependent upon a number of elements together with the complexity of the case and the extent to which the corporate beneath investigation cooperates.

The scrutiny of TikTok marks the second DSA inquiry, after Elon Musk’s social media platform X, previously often called Twitter, grew to become the subject of a formal investigation by Brussels in December final yr. The proceedings in opposition to X are specializing in areas together with failure to block illegal content and inadequate measures against disinformation.

Apple is reportedly facing abig fine from the EU over its behaviour in the music streaming app market. The European Fee is investigating whether or not the US tech firm blocked music streamers from telling customers about cheaper methods to subscribe outdoors its app retailer.

Based on the Monetary Instances, Brussels plans to impose a nice of €500m, which might characterize a landmark choice in opposition to Apple after years of complaints from corporations whose providers are delivered through iPhone apps.

The fee declined to remark. Apple didn’t present a contemporary remark, however pointed to a earlier assertion that mentioned the corporate would reply to the fee’s issues “whereas selling competitors and selection for European shoppers”.

Apple has by no means confronted a contest nice from the European Fee, though it received a €1.1bn fine from France in 2020 – subsequently revised all the way down to about €370m on attraction – for anti-competitive agreements with two wholesalers.

Nevertheless, Apple and different massive tech corporations are beneath rising scrutiny due to competitors issues. Google is interesting in opposition to fines of greater than €8bn levied by the EU in three separate competitors investigations.

Apple defeated a lawsuit by the Fortnite developer, Epic Video games, that claimed that the app retailer was an unlawful monopoly. Epic in December won a similar case against Google, which operates the Android cell phone software program.

Final month, Apple mentioned it will allow EU customers to download apps with out going by way of its personal app retailer, a response to the bloc’s Digital Markets Act. The legislation introduces new obligations for digital “gatekeepers” together with Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Google.

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