TikTok’s Data Privacy Policies Draw Eyes Of EU Authorities

TikTok app

TikTok, the popular Chinese short-form mobile video app, is facing more scrutiny over its privacy policies, Bloomberg reported.

The EU’s investigative unit will form a task force to examine TikTok’s activities across the 27-nation bloc following a request from a lawmaker concerned about its data collection and its security and privacy risks. EU authorities can fine companies for violations under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In a statement, authorities said they intend to coordinate investigations and potential actions over TikTok’s practices across the EU, Bloomberg reported.

Last month, the data-protection commission in the Netherlands opened an investigation into TikTok’s policies to protect children’s data, noting the app is popular with Dutch youth, Bloomberg reported.

EU authorities also warned police forces against using facial recognition software from Clearview AI, according to Bloomberg. The New York-based technology company makes the software that allows users to search the internet for photos and uses facial recognition to identify potential suspects. Authorities said there are concerns about potential misuse.

Wednesday’s announcement by the investigative panel comes weeks after four U.S. senators urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate allegations that TikTok violated a consent decree protecting children’s privacy, Dig.Watch reported.

In a letter, lawmakers said several child and privacy advocacy groups noted that the company has failed to remove videos made by children under age 13 as it promised to under a consent agreement with the FTC.

“Faced with compelling evidence that this wildly popular social media platform is blatantly flouting binding U.S. privacy rules, the FTC should move swiftly to launch an investigation and forcefully hold violators accountable,” stated the letter, which was signed by Sens. Edward Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Josh Hawley and Marsha Blackburn.

A TikTok spokeswoman told Reuters in an email that the company takes the issue of safety seriously for its users and “we continue to further strengthen our safeguards and introduce new measures to protect young people on the app.” 

Representatives for Clearview AI didn’t immediately respond to a Bloomberg email seeking comment.