EU Opens Probe Into TikTok Over Potential DSA Breaches

The European Commission said on Monday it has opened a formal probe into whether TikTok broke Digital Services Act rules related to the protection of minors, advertising transparence, data access for researchers and risk management for addictive design and harmful content.

The investigation is the second under DSA rules after a probe into social media platform X, formerly Twitter, in December.

DSA rules apply to all online platforms as of 17 February, but the biggest “gatekeepers” have been subject to more stringent requirements since last August.

The DSA requires the biggest platforms to do more to manage illegal content and risks to public security and safety.

Thierry Breton. Image credit: European Parliament

‘Addictive design’

Firms that violate its provisions can be fined up to 6 percent of their worldwide annual turnover.

EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton said he decided on the probe after analysing TikTok’s risk assessmenet report and its responses to requests for information.

“Today we open an investigation into TikTok over suspected breach of transparency & obligations to protect minors: addictive design & screen time limits, rabbit hole effect, age verification, default privacy settings,” he said on X.

TikTok said it would continue to work with experts and the industry to keep young people safe, and looked forward to having the opportunity to explain its work to the Commission.

Transparency

“TikTok has pioneered features and settings to protect teens and keep under 13s off the platform, issues the whole industry is grappling with,” the firm said.

The Commission said its concerns included negative effects from the design of TikTok, including algorithms and a user experience that may “stimulate behavioural addictions and/or create so-called ‘rabbit-hole effects'”.

It said age verification tools may not be sufficient and that it would look at whether TikTok had appropriate measures to ensure privacy, safety and security for minors.

The agency is also to look into whether TikTok is providing a searchable and reliable repository for ads and “suspected shortcomings” with regard to TikTok providing researchers with access to publicly accessible data for studying systemic risk in the EU.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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