EU Launches Formal Investigation into TikTok Over Digital Services Act Compliance


TikTok, the popular short-form video platform, finds itself under the scrutiny of the European Commission, as the EU’s executive branch officially initiates an investigation into the company’s adherence to the Digital Services Act. While TikTok has faced challenges in the U.S., it seems its troubles have extended across the Atlantic.

The Digital Services Act: A Closer Look

The Digital Services Act, greenlit late last year and enacted on January 1, serves as a legislative framework combating issues such as illegal content, disinformation, and targeted advertising. The European Commission is now turning its attention to TikTok to ensure compliance with these regulations.

EU Concerns and Investigation Focus

In a press release on Monday, the EU outlined specific areas of concern it will investigate. These include potential use of algorithmic systems by TikTok, with a particular focus on whether they contribute to addictive behavior, creating what the EU terms a “rabbit hole effect.” The fear is that TikTok might be employing strategies to keep users endlessly engaged.

Other aspects under scrutiny include privacy and safety measures for minors, advertising transparency, and the effectiveness of age verification processes on the platform.

Child Protection in the Spotlight

The investigation will delve into the effectiveness of TikTok’s measures to protect children, with a spotlight on age verification. The EU is questioning whether the current safeguards are sufficient to shield minors from potential harm.

Potential Consequences for TikTok

If TikTok is found to be in violation of any Digital Services Act policies, the consequences could be substantial. The platform may be required to pay up to 6 percent of its annual turnover as a penalty, according to sources cited by TechCrunch.

TikTok’s Response and Cooperation

TikTok, in response to the investigation, issued a statement expressing its commitment to cooperate fully. The platform claims to have already responded to previous requests from the European Commission and has proactively proposed meetings between its child safety representatives and EU officials. Despite these efforts, TikTok alleges it has not received a response from the Commission.

As the investigation unfolds, the outcome will not only impact TikTok but could also set a precedent for how global tech platforms navigate compliance with regional regulations. The EU’s thorough examination of TikTok’s practices underscores the increasing importance of regulatory adherence in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

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