TikTok CEO Attempt to Convince EU About App’s Safety and Privacy

Devina Aurelia . January 16, 2023

Picture: Dexerto

Techspace - On a visit to Brussels on January 10, 2023, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew sought to reassure the European Union that the app will adhere to the bloc's increasingly strict digital regulations and commitments to privacy and child safety. 

About 80 officials are scheduled to join the group that the European Commission has established, which opponents claim is insufficient. It published a tender this month for experts to assist with investigations and compliance enforcement over a four-year term for 12 million euros ($12.3 million).

The short-video platform, which is owned by Chinese technology giant ByteDance, has been addressing U.S. worries about whether the personal information of its citizens can be accessed and its content altered by China's Communist Party or any other organization under Beijing's control for the past three years.

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After the firm acknowledged last month that some of its staff had inappropriately accessed the TikTok user data of two journalists in an effort to track down the origin of information leaks to the media, pressure on the company grew.

TikTok's reputation with authorities in the 27-nation EU is rather poor when compared to competitors like Meta (META.O) and Twitter.

But when strict digital regulations to restrain Big Tech's dominance and demand online platforms to contribute more to monitor the internet for illicit content come into law in the coming months, that may change.

Margrethe Vestager, head of the EU's antitrust agency, was the first of Chew's meetings in Brussels. The purpose of the meeting with TikTok, according to the EU executive, "was to evaluate how the firm is planning to comply with its duties under the European Commission's rules, specifically the Digital Services Act (DSA) and potentially under the Digital Markets Act (DMA)."

The DMA is expected to compel businesses to make changes by compelling them to interoperate their messaging systems and give corporate users access to their data. Business users might advertise rival goods and services on a platform and close deals with clients away from the platforms.

Companies would not be permitted to prioritize their own services above those of competitors or restrict users' ability to uninstall pre-installed software or apps, two measures that will severely hurt Google and Apple.

The DSA forbids targeted advertising for children or based on private information such as political beliefs, gender, race, or religion. Dark patterns, or strategies that trick users into providing personal information to businesses online, would also be outlawed.

Companies who violate the DMA and/or DSA may be subject to fines of up to 10% of their annual global revenue. A political agreement on both rule books had been reached earlier this year by legislators and EU member states, but certain specifics remained to be worked out.

According to the statement, "during the meeting, the parties also discussed GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), issues of privacy and data transfer duties with a reference to the recent press coverage on active data collecting and spying in the U.S.

Vera Jourova, the commissioner for values and transparency, detailed her worries to Chew, including the security of Europeans' personal information, the safety of children, the propagation of Russian misinformation on the platform, and the openness of political advertising.

In a statement following the meeting, she stated, "I expect TikTok to fully implement its obligations to go above and beyond in obeying EU legislation and recovering the trust of European regulators." Didier Reynders, the head of the EU's justice department, told Chew that TikTok ought to do more to eradicate hate speech on its website.

According to Tiktok, it was committed to obeying EU regulations openly. Our readiness for this is a high priority, said Theo Bertram, vice-president for public policy in Europe.

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