EU urges TikTok boss to abide by new rules

Published: 10.01.2023 – 18:12

Brussels (AFP) – ‘Transparency will be critical’: Several senior European officials on Tuesday urged the CEO of a heavily criticized Chinese social network in the US to ‘fully’ abide by EU rules, in particular on data protection and combating misinformation.

Show Tzu Chu met in Brussels at her request with Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, as well as with her colleagues Vera Yurova, responsible for values ​​and transparency, and Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice.

On the menu of discussions with Mr. Chu: “protection of personal data, the safety of minors, the transparency of paid political content and the dissemination of Russian disinformation on TikTok,” Vera Yurova pointed out, calling on the company to “make extra efforts (…) to restore the trust of European regulatory bodies.”

“There can be no doubt about the security of European users’ data, that they are not subject to illegal access by the authorities of third countries,” she added, noting that TikTok promises a “reliable system” for data processing in Europe.

TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is Chinese, has come under fire for the addiction it induces in children and teens. In the United States, the law bans its use on the devices of government officials, elected officials, accusing it of being a tool of espionage and propaganda in the service of China, amid tensions between Beijing and Washington.

ByteDance is also under investigation by the Irish Privacy Authority, which suspects the company of violating the European Data Protection Act (GDPR) regarding the processing of children’s personal data and the transfer of data to China.

“I insisted on the importance of full GDPR compliance and cooperation” with the Irish regulator, Didier Reynders said after the meeting.

Last month, ByteDance had to admit that employees were improperly accessing TikTok user data to track journalists and determine the source of a media leak.

According to Ms. Yurova’s office, Shou Zi Chu acknowledged a “mistake” on Tuesday, assuring that “responsible employees no longer work for the group.”

– “Apply all our rules” –

“We are fully committed to enforcing the provisions of the DSA and have mobilized key resources to ensure future compliance with the rules,” a TikTok spokesperson told AFP on Monday.

Mr Reynders noted TikTok’s “commitment to counter hate speech and ensure the protection of all users, including children.” According to the Commission, Mr. Chu detailed the group’s “investment in moderation practices aimed at limiting exposure to toxic content.”

The company is also required to provide “by the end of January” a disinformation report on its platform as part of a strengthened European code of conduct.

According to Vera Yurova’s firm, TikTok has “acknowledged that non-European state actors are attempting to manipulate the platform’s content for disinformation purposes and is working to address this issue”, having already “quickly applied EU sanctions against Russian propaganda”. organs.”

On Tuesday, Show Tzu Chu was also scheduled to meet with Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson. The Singaporean will then meet via videoconference with European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton on January 19.

“I will say exactly the same thing to the president of TikTok as I would to Elon Musk, the boss of Twitter,” he warned on Monday, scoring that he, too, needs to prepare to “apply all of our rules (…) and commitments, including on transparency their algorithms.

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