TikTok Given EU Ultimatum Over Child Safety Concerns

TikTok, the Chinese-owned video-sharing app, was given one month by European Union regulators and consumer protection watchdogs to address concerns over the safety of children’s data on the platform.

“It is prohibited to target children and minors with disguised advertising such as banners in videos” in the EU, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said in a statement on Friday.

He said the EU started a formal dialog together with national consumer organizations led by those in Sweden and Ireland to “support TikTok in complying with EU rules to protect consumers.”

ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok is already facing scrutiny in the EU over how it handles children’s personal information. The Irish data protection commission in December became the lead EU data protection authority for the company.

Caroline Greer, director of public policy at TikTok Europe, said the app has “taken a number of steps to protect our younger users, including making all under-16 accounts private-by-default, and disabling their access to direct messaging.”

She said “users under 18 cannot buy, send or receive virtual gifts, and we have strict policies prohibiting advertising directly appealing to those under the age of digital consent.”

The dialog is part of the company’s “ongoing engagement” with regulators and other external stakeholders, she added.

Friday’s action follows complaints by European consumer campaign group BEUC earlier this year that the app is breaching users’ rights “on a massive scale.”

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