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EU Launches TikTok Probe on Child Protection under Digital Content Law


The European Union (EU) has officially launched a formal investigation into TikTok over alleged breaches of its obligations to protect minors online, citing concerns under the Digital Services Act (DSA). This development marks the second major probe under the DSA, following a previous investigation into Elon Musk's X in December.

The EU is particularly focused on assessing whether TikTok adequately addresses the negative impacts on young users, with a specific concern about the "rabbit hole" effect. This effect occurs when users are directed toward potentially harmful content based on algorithms. Additionally, the European Commission is scrutinizing TikTok's age verification tools, questioning their reasonableness, proportionality, and effectiveness.

The formal proceedings will assess various aspects, including advertising transparency, data access for researchers, and TikTok's response to systemic risks. The EU regulators will continue to gather evidence, retaining the authority to take further enforcement steps if necessary.

Thierry Breton, the EU's internal market commissioner, emphasized TikTok's responsibility due to its extensive reach among children and teenagers. The EU aims to ensure proportionate action is taken to protect the well-being of young Europeans.

TikTok, with over 142 million monthly users in the EU, expressed its commitment to online safety. A TikTok spokesperson highlighted the platform's efforts in implementing features and settings to protect teens, emphasizing collaboration with experts and the industry.

The formal probe encompasses a comprehensive examination of TikTok's risk assessment, measures for protecting minors' privacy and safety, advertising repository reliability, and transparency initiatives. There is no specified deadline for the investigation's completion.

The DSA grants the EU significant regulatory powers, including the ability to impose substantial fines, potentially up to six percent of a digital firm's global revenues, for violations. The law came into effect last year and applies to major online platforms, emphasizing the need for enhanced content policing and swift responses to protect users. The investigation is part of the EU's broader efforts to ensure digital platforms comply with the evolving regulatory landscape and safeguard user interests.

Feb. 20, 2024 11:50 a.m. 2481

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