Coming off a months-long struggle with the former Trump Administration, TikTok is once again in hot water. The European Union (EU) claims TikTok has violated protections regarding the safety of children’s data online.
According to a press release from the EU, TikTok uses “hidden marketing and aggressive advertising techniques” to target children’s data. Additionally, the Union claims the platform intentionally wrote its policies to be misleading and hard for users to understand.
“It is prohibited to target children and minors with disguised advertising such as banners in videos” in the EU, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders wrote in a statement.
The press release indicated that TikTok has one month to address the issues raised by the EU. However, it is not immediately clear what consequences, if any, the platform will have if it doesn’t comply with the EU’s concerns.
Bloomberg reports that Caroline Greer, TikTok’s Europe’s director of public policy, claims TikTok is taking many steps to protect children on the platform. For instance, accounts for users under 16 years old are private by default. Additionally, users under 18 cannot buy or receive virtual gifts. She also claims the platform enforces strict policies to prohibit advertising directly to children without digital consent.
The EU has been critical of ByteDance — TikTok’s parent company — for how it protects children’s personal information for months now. Though users have to verify they’re over the age of 13 to receive the target ads, TechCrunch reports that TikTok’s age verification technology has come under fire for allegedly being too weak to prevent the children from seeing the ads.
The path forward
According to the European Commission, “a formal dialogue” has been opened between it and TikTok over the platform’s practices. The hope here is that they reach a resolution that complies with the law and keeps children safe when using the platform.