EU asks TikTok bosses to comply with new rules

BRUSSELS: “Transparency will be crucial”: senior European officials on Tuesday called on the CEO of the Chinese social network, which has been widely criticized in the United States, to “fully” respect EU regulations, particularly regarding data protection and privacy. misinformation.

Shou Zi Chew met in Brussels, at his request, the Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, as well as his partners Vera Jourova, who is responsible for value and transparency, and Didier Reynders, the Justice Commissioner.

On the discussion menu with Mr Chew: “protection of personal data, safety of minors, transparency of paid political content and the spread of Russian disinformation on TikTok”, said Vera Jourova, calling on the company to “make extra efforts (…) to get back the confidence of European regulators”.

“There is no doubt about the security of European users’ data, that they are not exposed to illegal access by authorities in third countries,” he added, noting that TikTok promised “robust systems” for data processing in Europe.

TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is Chinese, has been criticized for the addiction it causes among children and young people. In the United States, laws prohibit its use by civil servants, elected officials accuse it of being a tool of espionage and propaganda in the service of China, against a backdrop of tensions between Beijing and Washington.

ByteDance is also the subject of an investigation by the Irish Privacy Authority, which suspects the company of violating European data protection law (GDPR) regarding the processing of children’s personal data and the transfer of data to China.

“I stress the importance of fully complying with the GDPR and cooperating” with the Irish regulator, Didier Reynders said after the meeting.

ByteDance had to admit last month that employees improperly accessed TikTok user data to track down journalists to identify the source of media leaks.

According to Jourova’s office, Shou Zi Chew admitted on Tuesday the “mistake”, confirming that the “responsible employee is no longer working for the group”.

“Apply all our rules”

Aiming to stem disinformation and hate speech, the European law on digital services (DSA), which came into force in November, will force the largest online platforms from mid-2023 to be audited by an independent body, to assess the risks associated with their use. and adopt measures to reduce it.

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

Mr. Reynders noted TikTok’s “commitment to fighting hate speech and ensuring the protection of all users, including children.” According to the Commission, Mr. Chew details the group’s “investment in moderation practices aimed at limiting impact + toxic content +”.

The company must also provide “by the end of January” a report on disinformation on its platforms, as part of a strengthened European code of conduct.

According to Vera Jourova’s firm, TikTok “acknowledged that non-European state actors are trying to manipulate the platform’s content for disinformation purposes, and is working to solve this problem”, having “quickly implemented ‘European Union sanctions against Russian propaganda organs’.

Shou Zi Chew will also meet Ylva Johansson, Home Affairs Commissioner, on Tuesday. The Singaporean will then meet on January 19 via videoconference with the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton.

“I would say exactly the same thing to the president of TikTok” as to Elon Musk, the boss of Twitter, he warned Monday, embarrassed that he too must be prepared to “apply all of our rules (. .. ), including the transparency of their algorithm.” “.

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