European regulator probes TikTok on children’s data, China ties
A key European privacy regulator has opened two probes into TikTok’s handling of user data, adding to the popular Chinese app’s regulatory woes on both sides of the Atlantic.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, which is the European Union’s main regulator for companies like TikTok parent ByteDance that have established their regional headquarters in Ireland, said late Tuesday that it is investigating the app’s processing of children’s data and transfers of user data to China.
The watchdog provided few details on the probes but said it first will examine TikTok’s data protection “requirements as they relate to the processing of personal data in the context of platform settings for users under age 18 and age verification measures for persons under 13.”
The second probe will center on “transfers by TikTok of personal data to China,” the group said.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission has the authority to impose fines of up to 4 percent of a company’s global revenue. TikTok posted $34.3 billion in revenue last year but has grown significantly since then, meaning the EU could potentially level a fine worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
A spokesperson for TikTok said it had implemented extensive policies and controls to safeguard user data and relies on approved methods for data being transferred from Europe, such as standard contractual clauses.
“The privacy and safety of the TikTok community, particularly our youngest members, is our highest priority,” the spokesperson said.
The Irish investigation echoes concerns raised by lawmakers in the US, who have also questioned the app’s data protection practices and ties to the Chinese government.
In August, Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, urged the Biden administration Tuesday to ban TikTok in the US after the Chinese government took a board seat and partial ownership in a key subsidiary of ByteDance, the company behind the wildly popular video sharing app.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden ordered the Commerce Department to conduct a review of security concerns posed by TikTok and other apps even as he withdrew a set of Trump-era executive orders seeking to ban TikTok that had been blocked by courts.
Senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties have raised concerns about TikTok’s data collection practices.