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TikTok faces threat of hefty fines as EU prepares probe over risks to minors

11 February 2024 21:25 (UTC+04:00)
TikTok faces threat of hefty fines as EU prepares probe over risks to minors

TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. faces the threat of hefty fines as the European Union prepares a probe under its strict new content moderation rules over concerns of risks to minors, Azernews reports, citing Al Arabiya.

The European Commission will open an investigation into TikTok under the bloc’s new Digital Services Act in the coming weeks, people familiar with the matter said. The probe stems from concerns that changes the company made to comply with the new regulations aren’t enough to protect underage users, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

The DSA gives regulators unprecedented powers to take action against major tech companies for how they handle content on their platforms. Companies face fines of as much as 6 percent of annual sales, or even risk being banned from the EU if they repeatedly break the rules.

EU regulators in December opened their first formal probe under the DSA into Elon Musk’s X to establish possible breaches in the way the platform handles illegal content and disinformation. The bloc singled out 19 online platforms and search engines last year as large entities worthy of scrutiny and has been quizzing them for information. That includes X, Meta Platforms Inc., Alphabet Inc. and others with more than 45 million monthly active users in Eu-rope. The EU has since also added three porn sites.

TikTok declined to comment on the matter but said it is in “regular dialogue and hadn’t received anything from the commission about an investigation.” A representative for the commission declined to comment. The discussions are still ongoing and the EU may still decide against a full probe.

The EU has sent several requests for information to TikTok since the platform was designated as a significant platform. That’s included inquiring about what steps it’s taken to protect minors, especially regarding the risks to mental health and physical health, and how its services are used by children.

More investigations are likely to be added as the EU has been quizzing all designated firms for more information over the last few months. Similar to TikTok, Meta’s Instagram has also been quizzed by the EU on what changes it’s made to comply with the new rules and to assess and mitigate risks facing its underage users.

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