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Editor's choiceEuropean Commission Takes Formal Action Against TikTok Under Digital Services Act

European Commission Takes Formal Action Against TikTok Under Digital Services Act

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Brussels, Belgium – In a significant move to safeguard digital rights and user safety, the European Commission has initiated formal proceedings against the social media giant, TikTok, to investigate potential breaches of the Digital Services Act (DSA). This action underscores the EU’s commitment to enforcing its groundbreaking legislation aimed at regulating the digital space, particularly in areas concerning the protection of minors, advertising transparency, data access for researchers, and the management of content that could be deemed harmful or addictive.

Following a preliminary investigation, which included a detailed analysis of TikTok’s risk assessment report submitted in September 2023 and the company’s responses to the Commission’s formal Requests for Information, the Commission has identified several areas of concern. These include TikTok‘s compliance with DSA obligations related to systemic risks, such as the potential for algorithmic systems to foster behavioral addictions or lead users down harmful ‘rabbit hole effects.’ The investigation will also scrutinize TikTok’s measures to protect minors, including the effectiveness of its age verification tools and default privacy settings, as well as the platform’s transparency in advertising and data accessibility for research purposes.

If TikTok is found to have failed in these areas, it would constitute infringements of multiple articles within the DSA, signaling a breach of the obligations set forth for Very Large Online Platforms (VLOP). TikTok, which declared having 135.9 million monthly active users in the EU as of April 2023, falls under this category and is therefore subject to stringent compliance requirements under the DSA.

The formal proceedings mark a critical phase in the Commission’s enforcement of the DSA, empowering it to take further actions, including interim measures and non-compliance decisions. The Commission may also accept any commitments made by TikTok to address the issues under investigation. It’s important to note that the opening of these proceedings does not imply a predetermined outcome, nor does it limit the Commission’s ability to investigate other potential infringements under the DSA or other regulatory frameworks.

As the investigation progresses, the Commission will continue to gather evidence, potentially conducting interviews, inspections, and sending additional requests for information to TikTok. The duration of this in-depth investigation will depend on various factors, including the complexity of the case and the extent of TikTok’s cooperation.

This action by the European Commission is a clear demonstration of the EU’s resolve to ensure that digital platforms operate in a manner that protects users’ rights and safety, particularly those of minors. It also highlights the comprehensive nature of the DSA, which applies to all online intermediaries operating within the EU, setting a global benchmark for digital regulation. As the proceedings unfold, the digital community and TikTok users will be keenly watching for the outcome and its implications for the future of digital services regulation in Europe and beyond.

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